Gadsden Independent School District provides training that appears to tell counselors they should keep gender identity of students hidden from parents; training for staff includes “Genderbread Person” and “Gender Unicorn”


Parents Defending Education submitted a public records request to the Gadsden Independent School District seeking any guidance regarding transgender issues. The district provided PDE with several documents, including a presentation titled “Title IX: Supporting LGBTQ+, Transgender and Nonbinary Youth.” The presentation states: “What is not clear is how educators apply parental rights to be the guiding voice in their children’s lives when a student is in the throes of this complex issue and wants to negotiate it without parental consent.” The presentation then discusses that secrets can be kept from parents:

A skilled educator such as the school counselor could work with the student to uncover any additional information that might shed light on his fear of involving his parents and to help the student consider possible scenarios and implications if his parents accidentally learn of his transition. This conversation should not discourage the student from moving forward but help him weigh the possible good and bad consequences of not telling his parents and possibly serve to help him become empowered so he can involve his parents.

In an additional document PDE received, this presentation was dated November 29, 2023. The following description was provided for the training: “All school counselors received information on Title IX and supporting our LGBTQ+ students.”

Another document from the school district provides what appears to be rules for a “school counselor’s role.” This document was provided as an activity during the November 29 training and states that school counselors “are committed to the affirmation of all youth regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression and work to create safe and affirming schools.” The following are some of the rules provided to counselors:

  • Counsel students with questions about their sexual orientation and gender identity as well as students’ feelings about the identity of others in an accepting and nonjudgmental manner.
  • Advocate for transgender, nonbinary and gender-expansive students regarding access of building facilities (e.g., ensuring a safe environment for restroom use and changing) and gender presentation (e.g., wearing a dress or pants for an orchestra or vocal performance).
  • Promote sensitivity and acceptance of diversity among all students and staff to include LGBTQ+ students and diverse family systems.
  • Model language that is inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Engage in training on supporting LGBTQ+ students and advocating for their rights in schools.
  • Know the impact of family acceptance on student well-being and ability to thrive.
  • Support families whose children are coming out by helping them navigate these important developmental milestones in ways that protect LGBTQ+ students from harm and help families stay together.

PDE also received a document from the district with “trainings and presentations that focused on supporting our LGBTQIA students and creating an inclusive environment for all students.” This document included links to several other presentations provided to staff within the district. Another training staff had was on April 20, 2022. The following description was provided for the training: “Lead Counselor and Mental Health Therapists presented to all campus principals in an effort to promote awareness and equality for our LGBTQIA students.”

The presentation for this training states that participants should be “challenging your own anti-LGBT bias.” The following were then some questions asked to participants:

  • How would you feel if your child came out to you as LGBT? How would you feel if your mother, father or sibling came out to you as LGBT?
  • Can you think of three historical figures who were transgender?
  • If you do not identify as LGBT, how would you feel if people thought you were?

The presentation also claims there are more than two genders and uses the “Genderbread Person” to make this argument. The “Genderbread Person” is an image that educators use in an attempt to teach students that gender is on a spectrum. This image also states: “We all hold characteristics that defy heteronormativity.”

Another set of documents were from a “School Counselor Meeting” dated November 8, 2022. One presentation for this meeting is called “LGBTQ+ Inclusion.” This presentation starts with a “land acknowledgement” that states: “As an uninvited guest on Indigenous land, I commit myself to working in partnership with Indigenous people as we heal the disruptions and harms of colonialism and live in reciprocal relationship with our natural environment and the people who inhabit it.” The presentation tells counselors to “respect pronouns and identities,” “throw glitter, not shade,” and “one diva, one mic.”

This presentation has a list of 19 gender identities that include “transgender,” “cisgender,” “demi-boy,” “demi-girl,” “muxe,” “third gender,” and “two spirit.” Counselors are also told to “assure and respect confidentiality.” The presentation also states to use “Mx./first name” instead of “Mr./Ms.” and “people/everyone” instead of “girls/guys.”

The “Gender Unicorn” was also used during this meeting. The “Gender Unicorn” is an image that schools have used in an attempt to teach children that gender exists on a spectrum.

A document labeled as “LGBTQ+ Organizational Assessment Questionnaire” was also part of the meeting. This document asks staff questions such as:

  • Do you affirm clients’ and employees’ gender identity by allowing and supporting them to use the facilities that correspond to their gender identity? (This may include restrooms, locker rooms, living accommodations?)
  • Do you display materials (such as posters, signs, and magazines) that feature LGBTQ+ individuals, families, culture, and other representations?
  • When it’s appropriate, do you discuss current events and history that are relevant and inclusive to the LGBTQ+ community?
  • Do you include non-binary and open-ended options for gender on forms? (For example, do you have a line to write in Gender Identity, instead of only Male or Female boxes).
  • Do you provide staff trainings on LGBTQ+ issues? Are they mandatory or optional? Are they one time, or ongoing?
  • Do you have a practice of asking pronouns at staff meetings, in interviews, and other interactions?

GLSEN’s “Safe Space Kit” is also listed as a resource from this meeting. The organization GLSEN is known for promoting LGBTQ issues to young children. GLSEN states on its website that “while many LGBTQ+-inclusive school supports begin in middle or high school, it is critical for elementary schools to establish a foundation of respect and understanding for all people.” The organization has also appeared to show support for children taking “hormone replacement therapy” to transition to another gender:

Upon birth, we are typically categorized into one of two genders (boy or girl) depending on how our genitals are read. Throughout our lives, however, our many bodily characteristics work together to create a unique path of development, causing some of us to grow really tall, and others to remain short, or some of us to grow hair under our armpits and legs, while others remain bare. While this development often happens on its own during puberty, this change can also be administered through medicine, such as hormone replacement therapy. Since our society often conflates our bodies (or genitalia) with our gender identity, it is critical that we allow space for people to self-identify.

The organization GLSEN promotes teaching elementary students about “LGBTQ+” issues.
GLSEN appears to support providing young children with “hormone replacement therapy.”