LGBTQ+ student protections: Politics are getting in the way

Policies that prohibit teachers from disclosing students' transgender pronouns to their parents are receiving backlash from conservative activist groups.

Politics continue to interfere with the safety and inclusiveness of LGBTQ+ students. Moreover, teachers say they’re the least likely student population to have their needs supported at school.

Despite President Biden’s efforts to expand Title IX protections for LGBTQ+ students, some states are resisting the administration’s recommendations. Earlier this month, the Florida Department of Education urged its schools to ignore Biden’s LGBTQ+ discrimination guidelines or risk violating Florida law. Jeff Miller, a Gardner Edgerton school board member, proposed a policy that would require students and staff to be addressed by their birth-assigned gender in an agenda meeting last month.

Other schools, however, are taking preventative measures to ensure that their LGBTQ+ students feel safe not only in their schools but also from their parents’ scrutiny. But as history repeats itself, these policies are receiving substantial backlash.

Washoe County School District, for example, updated its Gender Identity policy in 2019 to prohibit staff from sharing such sensitive information with parents.

It reads, “Transgender and gender non-conforming students have a right to privacy, including keeping private their sexual orientation, gender identity, transgender status, or gender non-conforming presentation at school.”

“Staff shall not disclose information that may reveal a student’s transgender or gender non-conforming status to others, including parents/guardians or other staff members, unless there is a specific ‘need to know,’ they are legally required to do so, or the student has authorized such disclosure.”

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Similarly, Linn-Mar schools recently implemented a new gender identity policy that also aims to keep transgender students’ pronouns private at school.

Parents Defending Education, a group of conservative activists, is suing the district over this change.

“Importantly, the District will not tell parents whether their child has requested or been given a Gender Support Plan, whether the child has made requests or actions have been taken concerning their gender identity, or whether it has any other information that would reveal the child’s ‘transgender status,'” the lawsuit alleges.

“Indeed, the Policy openly encourages children to deceive their parents by hiding the name and pronouns that they are using at school.”

“The district shall ensure that all information relating to student gender identity contained in student education records will be kept confidential in accordance with applicable state, local, and federal privacy laws,” the policy reads.

In an attempt to continue the push for LGBTQ+ protections in K-12 schools, the American Federation of Teachers published a blog post titled, “Why Are Pronouns Important at School?” The post can be found on AFT’s Share My Lesson, a community of teachers and other school-related personnel who create content about issues important to students and educators.

The authors push for schools to start using Student Introduction Cards in their classrooms, which would allow students to introduce themselves and their gender pronouns at the beginning of the year and establish confidentiality with their teachers.

Students can provide the following information:

  • “Government name”
  • “Name you would like to be called in class”
  • “Can I call you this name outside of class? Yes or No”
  • “Pronouns”

Most importantly, students can give the teacher permission about their preferred pronouns by answering a series of questions:

  • “May I use these pronouns in front of the class?” Yes or No
  • “May I use these pronouns when I contact home?” Yes or No
  • “May I use these pronouns in front of other teachers?” Yes or No
  • “Would you like to follow up with me about your name or pronouns?” Yes or No
Micah Ward
Micah Ward
Micah Ward is a District Administration staff writer. He recently earned his master’s degree in Journalism at the University of Alabama. He spent his time during graduate school working on his master’s thesis. He’s also a self-taught guitarist who loves playing folk-style music.

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