1,000 school districts adopt policies to hide students' chosen gender identities from parents

REUTERS/Tami Chappell
REUTERS/Tami Chappell

More than 1,000 school districts across the United States have adopted policies that permit or advise personnel to withhold information from parents about their child's desire to identify as trans or nonbinary, according to the advocacy group Parents Defending Education.

At least 1,040 districts, representing 18,335 schools with more than 10.7 million students, have "Transgender/Gender Nonconforming Policies" that openly state district personnel can or should keep a student’s gender identity status hidden from parents, says the report.

Breitbart reported that these policies show a widening acceptance of the idea that an individual’s chosen gender identity should take precedence over their biological sex.

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The phenomenon is growing among young people, with a Trevor Project study in 2021 revealing that 26% of LGBT-identified youth identify as non-binary, and another 20% are uncertain or questioning their non-binary identity.

Several Republican-majority states have responded by passing laws protecting children from undergoing irreversible body-mutilating sex-change surgeries to remove the body parts, such as an orchiectomy or castration for boys and an elective mastectomy or hysterectomy for girls.  

Another issue of concern is the proliferation of drag performances targeted at children. In Tennessee, for example, a law criminalizing public drag shows near children, intended to take effect on April 1, was temporarily halted, delaying enforcement until late May. State Rep. Chris Todd, R-Madison County, who submitted the bill, described it as “a common sense child-safety bill.”

In February, a study disclosed that at least 3 million K-12 public school students were enrolled in districts where they could alter their name and gender pronouns without parental consent. The report, released by the Defense of Freedom Institute for Policy Studies, was titled, “Pills and Pronouns: School Districts Require Parental Consent for Over-the-Counter Medicine But Not New Names and Pronouns.” 

The new report released by Parents Defending Education earlier this month reveals that the number is at least thrice that number.

Angela Morabito, former U.S. Department of Education press secretary during the Trump administration, told The Christian Post in a statement in February that the policies “drive a wedge between parents and their children.”

In Alaska, the Anchorage School District’s policy titled “Working with Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students and Employees” states that schools can conceal a student's confusion about their sexual identity from their parents, arguing that, for some students at the secondary education level, notifying the parents can present a risk to the student if their parents don’t support the transition (changing their name while at school, or secretly taking puberty blockers and opposite-sex hormones).

“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,” reads the policy.

Regarding elementary school students, the document claims that it’s usually parents or guardians who notify the school of their child’s desire to identify as the opposite sex.

“If school staff believes that a gender identity or expression issue is presenting itself and creating difficulty for the student at school, approaching parents about the issue is appropriate at the elementary level,” the district policy continues. “Together, the family and school can then identify appropriate steps to support the student.”

The policy allows students who identify as trans to enter bathrooms and locker rooms designated for the opposite sex (boys can enter girls' private spaces and vice versa) and can compete on sports teams designated for the opposite sex.

School employees and district administrative staff must also use a student's chosen pronouns if they decide to identify as the opposite sex or something else, according to the policy. However, staff must use the student’s actual name and pronouns when communicating with the child’s parents or guardians unless told otherwise by the student or their parents.

Students may also fill out a form to list their preferred name and pronouns and designate which single-sex bathroom or locker room they want to be allowed access. The form, signed by the student and the principal, is only accessible to those with a "legitimate need to know.”

Last week, a panel of federal judges decided that parents lack standing to challenge a Maryland school district’s policy permitting officials to conceal students' gender transitions from parents.

A three-judge panel on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 2-1 that a group of parents suing Montgomery County Public Schools did not have standing to file a complaint against the policy.

The ruling supported an August 2022 decision by the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, Judge Paul Grimm, who dismissed the lawsuit. Judge A. Marvin Quattlebaum concluded that the plaintiffs had not shown evidence of an injury, lacking the necessary standing. Therefore, federal courts were unable to address the parents’ objections to the guidelines.

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