South Burlington School District’s board members held a first reading of a draft policy titled “Transgender and Nonbinary Student Policy” at the November 15, 2023, board meeting. The policy describes “gender binary” as a “socially constructed system of viewing gender as consisting solely of two categories.” The draft policy explicitly states that the gender identity of students can be hidden from parents:
A school can best support a transgender or nonbinary student by involving the student regarding how and what information about the student is shared within the school, and between the school and the student’s home. The school will work closely with the student, and their parents or legal caregivers when appropriate, in devising a plan regarding the confidentiality of a student’s transgender status that is safe and affirming while meeting competing legal requirements.
The draft policy then explains:
However, in other cases, transgender students may not want their parents or legal caregivers to know about their transgender identity. These situations should be addressed on a case-by-case basis and school districts should balance the goal of supporting the student with the requirement that parents or legal caregivers be kept informed about their children. The paramount consideration in such situations should be the health and safety of the student, while also making sure that the student’s gender identity is affirmed in a manner that maintains privacy and confidentiality.
This draft policy also mandates that teachers use the preferred pronouns of students: “In addition, school staff will respect any requests to use a name and pronoun that corresponds to the student’s gender identity, or that the student asserts or wishes to assert at school irrespective of the gender listed on the student’s records.”
Students will be allowed to use the restrooms and locker rooms that match their preferred gender identity. Students will also be allowed to participate in sports according to their preferred gender identity.
The district additionally explains that it will teach students as young as pre-kindergarten about gender ideology and LGBTQ issues:
The district shall support inclusion of LGBTQIA+ inclusive content and curriculum throughout our PreK-12 curriculum and instruction. The district prohibits instruction that explicitly or implicitly teaches content or curriculum that excludes the experiences of LGBTQIA+ individuals.
District staff will additionally be trained in “terms, concepts, and current developmental understandings of gender identity, gender expression, and gender diversity in children and adolescents” and “developmentally appropriate strategies for communication with students and parents about issues related to gender identity and gender expression that protect student privacy.”
In a newsletter from the district’s superintendent dated November 16, 2023, the superintendent explained that students from South Burlington High School’s “Gay Straight Alliance” and from Frederick H. Tuttle Middle School’s “Queer Straight Alliance” performed the draft policy’s first reading. The superintendent further explained that these students “gave a presentation on why SB needs this policy based on their own experiences as well as polling other students in the middle and high school.” She then stated that these students and their club advisors “helped develop the policy with input from counselors, administrators, and the data team.”