Wichita Public Schools appears to keep gender identity of students secret from parents; explains to teachers in training that not using a student’s preferred pronouns “could lead to death”; guides teachers to ignore parents regarding the gender identity of their children
Parents Defending Education submitted a public records request to Wichita Public Schools requesting information on transgender issues within the district and received several documents, including a gender support plan for students and a training presentation for staff. The gender support plan used for students appears to show that the gender identity of students can be kept secret from parents. One question on the form asks: “Are the guardian(s) of this student aware and supportive of their child’s gender transition?“
The gender support plan also asks: “Who will be the student’s ‘go to’ adult at school?” The form additionally asks what school restrooms, facilities, and rooms on overnight fieldtrips will be used for the students.
The presentation used to train staff that PDE received from the request is titled “LGBTQ+ Students: Pronouns and More.” The presentation uses the organization GLSEN as a resource to provide definitions for the terms “gender identity,” “gender expression,” and “cisgender.” The presentation attempts to make the argument that “schools are hostile places for LGBTQ+ students.” The presentation also attempts to make the argument that using a student’s preferred name rather than legal name can reduce depression and thoughts of suicide.
The presentation also states that Wichita Public Schools has an “estimated 340+ staff that identify as LGBTQ.” This number includes “100+ staff that identify as transgender.” The presentation also states that the district “has 350+ students that identify as transgender.” The school district’s website states that there are 47,517 students and 5,600 full-time employees. This means that about 0.7 percent of students identify as transgender. Meanwhile, about 1.8 percent of staff identify as transgender. District staff appear to identify as transgender at over twice the rate as students.
The presentation has a slide titled “LGBTQ Stats (Impact due to lack of support).” The slide states: “If family doesn’t support them, LGBTQ+ students are 8 to 10 times more likely to die by suicide than other teens.” The notes of the presentation then provide the following statement about pronouns: “The lack of using pronouns could lead to death. We are here to support and educate students, not to judge them or push them over the proverbial edge.” The next slide also has notes that demand teachers use the preferred pronouns against the wishes of parents:
To not use the preferred pronouns and/or names can equate to discrimination. To allow a parents wishes to not use the students’ preferred pronouns and/or names is to allow yourself to be deputized to discriminate. This is not acceptable.
The school district has another presentation posted online titled “Transgender Awareness & Sensitivity for Leaders.” The presentation uses the “Genderbread Person” in an attempt to argue that gender is on a spectrum. The “Genderbread Person” is an image often used by educators in an attempt to teach students that gender is on a spectrum. The presentation tells staff to avoid using the terms “biologically,” “genetically,” “born a man or woman,” “incorrect pronouns,” and “bathroom bill.”
The presentation also includes steps for the district to possibly take. These steps include to “add ‘Gender Identity and Expression’ into corporate non-discrimination policy” and “supporting community organizations that promote transgender equality and respect.” An important goal is listed as to “drive positive change within your organization and the wider community.”
The school district also has another presentation posted online titled “Accommodating Transgender Students and Staff.” The presentation tells staff to “use the preferred name and gender pronoun” of others.
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.