Parents across the country are watching school districts, teachers, counselors and activists advocate for, hide, and facilitate social gender transition for students, often without parents knowledge. When stories like these emerge, many parents question how it could happen, how a teacher or administrator could think that it's their responsibility to prevent parents from knowing what's going on with their own children at schools.
But it turns out that in many states, the guidance from the state level is that parents should be kept in the dark about children's social gender transition in schools. Parents Defending Education has taken a closer look at guidelines across the 50 states to give parents an insight as to what is going on in their states.
In states that do not have overarching official policies or guidance though, those states rely on school districts to come up with their own determinations. To date, Parents Defending Education has uncovered the policies in 29 states regarding gender identities, with more coming as they research.
In Alaska, guidance states that students should be asked privately what pronouns and name they would like to be referred to, and when contacting parents, teachers and staff are directed to use their legal name and pronouns unless directed otherwise by the student, parent, or guardian.
The state notes that generally in elementary school, the parent would be the one informing the school of a student’s transition.
In secondary school though, “Generally, notification of a student’s parent about his or her gender identity, expression or transition is unnecessary, as they are already aware and may be supportive. In some cases, however, notifying parents carries risks for the student if the family does not support the student’s desire to transition.”
“Prior to notification of any parent or guardian regarding the transition process, school staff should work closely with the student to assess the degree to which, if any, the parent/guardian will be involved in the process, considering at all times the health, well-being, and safety of the transitioning student.”
In California, policies from the California Department of Education in regards to Assembly Bill 1266 states that it is the right of a transgender student to keep their trans identity private.
“A transgender or gender nonconforming student may not express their gender identity openly in all contexts, including at home. Revealing a student’s gender identity or expression to others may compromise the student’s safety. Thus, preserving a student’s privacy is of the utmost importance,” the department states.
“The right of transgender students to keep their transgender status private is grounded in California’s antidiscrimination laws as well as federal and state laws. Disclosing that a student is transgender without the student’s permission may violate California’s antidiscrimination law by increasing the student’s vulnerability to harassment and may violate the student’s right to privacy.”
Connecticut’s policies doesn’t provide a clear cut answer in regards to this, but states: “There may be instances where a parent/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.”
“For example, the parent/guardian may object to a minor student’s request for a change to education records or to a change already made at the student’s request,” policies from the State Department of Education read.
“Current law does not provide a clear rule for school districts to follow in these situations. However, declining to use a transgender student’s chosen name, gender marker and pronoun at school or in the student’s records (or otherwise failing to treat the student consistent with the student’s gender identity) because a parent/guardian objects would raise serious civil rights concerns under existing law and could cause severe psychological/emotional harm to the student.”
The state does acknowledge that a dispute between the student and parents in this situation may constitute a need for counseling or other supports, and tells schools to “consult with legal counsel and relevant counseling staff to reach an appropriate outcome.”
In the District of Columbia, they state that “In most cases, transitioning is a very private matter. Students may choose to have their parents participate in this process; however parental participation is not required.”
For pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students, the District of Columbia Public Schools states that generally, a parent would be the one informing the school of a student’s gender transition, though sometimes “it would be appropriate to approach the family of an elementary school student if school staff believes that a gender identity or expression issue is presenting itself at school and creating difficulty for the student.”
For older students though, “Generally, notification from the student’s parents or guardians about their gender identity, gender expression, or transition is unnecessary, as they may already be aware and supportive. In some cases, however, notifying parents or guardians carries risks for the student, such as being kicked out of the home. Prior to notification of any parent or guardian regarding the transition process, school staff should work closely with the student to assess the degree to which, if any, the parent or guardian will be involved in the process and must consider the health, wellbeing, and safety of the transitioning student.”
Hawaii states that each transgender student’s case should be assessed on a case-by-case basis, which includes a meeting with parents “if appropriate.”
“Schools should accept a student’s sincerely held gender identity. A student does not need a medical or mental health diagnosis or treatment threshold to have his or her gender identity recognized and respected,” guidance from Hawaii’s Department of Education states.
It continues on to state that every student’s situation should start with a meeting with a school administrator or counselor, and that “During this initial meeting, the counselor or administrator should also try to discover the extent to which the student’s parents are aware of the student’s gender identity. An initial meeting may or may not include the student’s parents, depending on individual circumstances and how the meeting was initiated. There may be situations where a student has not yet talked to their parents about their transgender status, but still makes a request for supports.”
Illinois states that: “In many instances, schools are not required to seek parental consent to support transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming students, especially when the safety of the student is a concern. For example, just as a school would not typically seek parent/guardian permission to use a child’s nickname at school, affirmative permission from a parent/guardian is not necessary to use a student’s affirmed name.”
In guidance from Kentucky’s Department of Education, they ask the question, “Should a school inform a parent/caregiver of a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity against a student’s wishes?”
“The involuntary disclosure of a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity, commonly referred to as ‘outing,' is an extremely dangerous practice,” the guidance warns. It also adds that school staff should balance “their responsibility to protect the health and safety of a student with their responsibility to keep parents informed of important educational issues.”
“If a student voluntarily discloses their sexual orientation or gender identity to an educator with the assumption that this information is to be kept private, it is best practice for the educator to maintain that,” the guidance states.
It cites the Human Rights Campaign as well as GLSEN to say that “The involuntary disclosure of sexual orientation or gender identity introduces unnecessary risk into the lives of LGTBQI+ students,” and that this is “extremely stressful” to the student.
GLSEN is an international advocacy group promoting gender identity indoctrination.
Numerous other states across the country follow guidances silimar to these, including Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, and more.
Parents Defending Education investigative fellow Alex Nester told The Post Millennial that “gender identity policies dictate how schools handle very personal matters regarding a child’s health and wellbeing.”
She added: “Many district's gender policies unconscionably exclude parents from conversations about their child's decision to identify as the opposite sex. State education departments have had a huge influence in the creation and implementation of these policies—and it’s vital that parents understand the expectations set forth by their state officials.”