Washoe County School District implements policy that keeps the gender identity of students a secret from parents
- Parent Rights
- Sex and Gender
On April 3, 2019, the Washoe County School District appeared to update its “Gender Identity” policy to include new rules for teachers and staff when dealing with transgender students. The policy explains that the “goal is to foster the safe and healthy development of the transgender or gender non-conforming student while maximizing the student’s social integration into the school setting and minimizing stigmatization of the student.” The policy specifically mandates that school staff keep the gender identity of students a secret from parents:
Staff shall not disclose information that may reveal a student’s transgender or gender non-conforming status to others, including parents/guardians or other staff members, unless there is a specific “need to know,” they are legally required to do so, or the student has authorized such disclosure.
The policy continues to explain that “staff must be mindful of the confidentiality and privacy rights of students when contacting parents/guardians so as to not reveal, imply or refer to a student’s actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”
The policy also states that “school staff and volunteers shall not question whether that student’s asserted gender identity is genuinely held.” The policy further explains that “students have the right to be addressed by the names and pronouns that correspond to their gender identity” and that “using the student’s declared name and pronoun promotes the safety and wellbeing of the student.”
The policy later explains that refusal to use a student’s preferred pronoun can potentially be considered bullying. The policy states that “the intentional or persistent refusal to respect a student’s gender identity, such as by referring to the student by a name or pronoun that does not correspond to the student’s gender identity” will possibly be considered a violation of the district’s harassment and discrimination policy.
The policy additionally mandates that students can use the locker rooms and restrooms that correspond to their preferred gender identity. This also applies to “physical education classes and intramural sports.”
The school district’s website features a presentation titled “Understanding Gender and Sexual Orientation.” The presentation appears to teach about perceived gender identity and sexual orientation issues. At one point, the presentation states: “People have the right to call themselves whatever they wish – even if it may not make sense to others.” The presentation has the definition of “cisgender” as “a person’s gender (how they feel on the inside) identity corresponds to the person’s biological sex assigned at birth.” The presentation also has definitions for “transgender” and “gender identity.”
The school district’s website has a document labeled “LGBTQ Community Resource Brochure.” The document states: “Coming out and living openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or supportive straight person is an act of bravery and authenticity.” The document features numerous resources from LGBTQ organizations that target children, including GLSEN and Gender Spectrum.
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 Gender Spectrum offers resources online specifically targeting “youth” and even teachers. Gender Spectrum offers resources to educators on a page titled “Integrating Gender Diversity Into Everyday Curriculum.” This page explains that the discussion of gender can be integrated into subjects like history, science, mathematics, and even physical education. In targeting the youth, Gender Spectrum offers online chatrooms for children as young as 10 years old who identify as “trans” or “non-binary.”