I got an agenda, this morning, for a meeting at my child’s school tomorrow night.
At a truly selfish level I wish that I had not seen it but I did and while I don’t fully understand what all of these agenda items mean (what critical incident?!?!?!)– I have a feeling that I should show up. It’s the “Discussing Controversial topics at LOLHS that has my blood pressure rising.
Recently I’ve gotten involved with my local high school because of anti-trans harassment that was being leveled as a student that I care about. This has brought up a lot of things including the issue of pronouns and of using pronouns even when some folks are uncomfortable / suddenly have become grammar purists.
Using pronouns that match someone’s gender identity is such a small way of validating that person and supporting inclusivity. At a past school board meeting a mother complained to the board that a teacher asked students for their pronouns. She feels that this direct way of recognizing and affirming humanity may cause her children to feel uncomfortable. This is top white supremacy up on display. The unwillingness to be uncomfortable is part of white supremacy culture.
My spidey sense is tingling and I think tomorrow tonight might include a conversation about gender identity. So — I did some homework and wanted to share that work with you. The document below has some key points and a bibliography. I also attached a PDF copy if that’s helpful. Feel free to use this if you are working on supporting youth and kids in your community. If you have some resources that would make this better–please let me know.
LGBTQI Kids and Youth – School Resources
Under both Connecticut (46a-58) and Federal Law (Case law, Title IV, First Amendment)*
- Every student has the right to an equal opportunity to participate in the activities, programs, and courses of study for which they are otherwise eligible without discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- Students have the right to access the school facilities, including bathrooms and locker rooms, that correspond to their gender identity.
- Students have the right to be addressed in the manner that corresponds to the gender with which they identify.
- A school’s obligation to provide transgender and gender non-conforming students with equal access to educational programs, activities and facilities, including restrooms and locker rooms, applies irrespective of concerns or objections raised by other students, parents, staff or community members. A desire to accommodate others’ discomfort is not a permissible basis for failing to treat students consistent with their gender identity or expression (see resource 3).
- There may be instances where a parent or guardian of a student who is under 18 disagrees with the student regarding the name, gender marker and pronoun to be used at school and in the student’s education records. Declining to use a student’s chosen name, gender marker and pronoun simply because a parent/guardian objects would raise serious concerns under existing law and could cause severe psychological/ emotional harm to the student. In such instances, districts should refer to their legal counsel for guidance concerning their obligations under the law and focus on appropriately ensuring the well-being of the student in light of the dispute, including by referral to appropriate counseling and support services for the student and family (see resource 3)
1. Proulx CN, Coulter RWS, Egan JE, Matthews DD, Mair C. Associations of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning-Inclusive Sex Education With Mental Health Outcomes and School-Based Victimization in U.S. High School Students. J Adolesc Health. 2019;64(5):608-614. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2018.11.012
2. Gender & Sexual Identity – State Education Resource Center. Accessed March 8, 2022. https://ctserc.org/equity/gender-and-sexual-identity
3. Guidance on Civil Rights Protections and Supports for Transgender Students: Frequently Asked Questions.:15. Connecticut Department of Education. Accessed March 8, 2022 https://portal.ct.gov/-/media/SDE/Title-IX/transgender_guidance_faq.pdf
4. Health Considerations for LGBTQ Youth | Disparities | Adolescent and School Health | CDC. Published April 15, 2021. Accessed March 8, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/disparities/health-considerations-lgbtq-youth.htm
5. Know Your Rights: Students & LGBTQ Rights at School. Southern Poverty Law Center. Accessed March 8, 2022. https://www.splcenter.org/know-your-rights-students-lgbtq-rights-school
6. LGBTQ Youth Need Inclusive Sex Education. Human Rights Campaign. Accessed March 8, 2022. https://www.hrc.org/resources/a-call-to-action-lgbtq-youth-need-inclusive-sex-education
7. LGBTQ+ Student Rights. GLSEN. Accessed March 8, 2022. https://www.glsen.org/activity/lgbtq-student-rights
8. Policy. GLSEN. Accessed March 8, 2022. https://www.glsen.org/policy
9. Protective Factors for LGBTQ Youth | Protective Factors | Adolescent and School Health | CDC. Published January 27, 2021. Accessed March 8, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/disparities/protective-factors-for-lgbtq-youth.htm
10. Resources for LGBTQI+ Students. Published October 26, 2021. Accessed March 8, 2022. https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/lgbt.html
11. Schools. National Center for Transgender Equality. Accessed March 8, 2022. https://transequality.org/know-your-rights/schools
12. Lewis SE and M. The complex and dynamic legal landscape of LGBTQ student rights. Brookings. Published October 19, 2020. Accessed March 8, 2022. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2020/10/19/the-complex-and-dynamic-legal-landscape-of-lgbtq-student-rights/
13. Ancheta AJ, Bruzzese JM, Hughes TL. The Impact of Positive School Climate on Suicidality and Mental Health Among LGBTQ Adolescents: A Systematic Review. J Sch Nurs. 2021;37(2):75-86. doi:10.1177/1059840520970847
14. Upholding the Civil Rights of Transgender Students. Accessed March 8, 2022. https://www.americanbar.org/groups/crsj/publications/crsj-featured-articles/transgender-youth-in-sports/
*This document was not prepared by a lawyer and does not constitute legal advice.