CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Teachers and staff in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools should avoid words like “boys” and “girls” in favor of more gender neutral descriptors like “scholars” and “students,” according to district “guidelines.”
A district presentation titled “Supporting Transgender Students,” highlighted recently by WSOC, encourages school leaders to ditch gender-based activities whenever possible, and to “maintain only those that have clear and sound pedagogical purpose.”
The presentation uses “The Gender Unicorn” developed by the Trans Student Equality Resources to illustrate the difference between a transgender person’s “Gender Identity,” “Gender Expression/Presentation,” “Sex Assigned at Birth,” and how they’re “Sexually Attracted To” and “Romatically/Emotionally Attracted To” others.
It lays out important LGBTQ terms and those to avoid, as well as statistics from a school survey that reportedly show most LGBT students feel unsafe in the district’s schools and avoid school functions.
The presentation points to a newly written section of the district’s “Bullying Prevention Regulation JICK-R” that addresses transgender issues centered on privacy concerns, professional development, school records, names and pronouns, restrooms and changing facilities and gender-based activities.
The regulation states “staff must take care not to ‘out’ a student to others, including the parents of an older student, without the student’s permission. In contacting the parents, use the student’s name/pronoun on birth certificate unless student or parent says otherwise.”
In other words, if educators are aware that a student is transgendered, or if that student claims to be transgendered at school, the educators cannot reveal that information to the child’s parents.
The regulation also states that while official school records must match the name and sex of students’ birth certificates, “nonofficial records must refer to transgender student by preferred names and pronouns.
“Inadvertent slips may occur,” the regulation said. “Intentional refusals to use a transgender student’s preferred name/pronoun violate this regulation.”
District officials require that students “have access to the restroom/changing facilities that correspond to their gender identity” and that any student who requests increased privacy or gender-neutral single-stall restroom or locker room access is accommodated, according to the presentation.
Aside from facilities, school staff should also allow transgender students to participate in activities that correspond to their “gender identity,” such as single gender classes, school ceremonies, school photos, extracurricular activities, dress codes, and overnight field trips, the regulation states.
Events like prom and homecoming, and decisions as basic as graduation robe colors, should be re-evaluated with the sensitivities of transgender students in mind because it’s important for “all students to feel inclusive in important events,” according to the presentation.
The regulation also cautions educators to “avoid gender specific classroom management techniques” like lining up students in a boy, girl fashion, or addressing them as “boys and girls” when “scholars or students” is more transgender friendly.
Parents with the North Carolina Values Coalition were not particularly impressed with the district’s transgender policies, and they’re planning to protest the next school board meeting to vent their frustrations.
“School is no longer about reading, writing and arithmetic,” NC Values Coalition spokeswoman Tami Fitzgerald told WSOC. “It is now about gender fluidity.”
The group issued a letter in response to the district adoption the transgender policy in June.
“CMS’ decision reflects neither courage, understanding, nor compassion. On the contrary, it violates hundreds of children’s privacy rights and dignity interests by forcing students to share restrooms, locker rooms, and accommodations on overnight trips with members of the opposite biological sex,” the letter read.
“As parents and as school administrators and teachers, we cannot sacrifice the dignity and privacy of any of our students,” it continued. “I respectfully request an explanation regarding how you believe this new policy protects the privacy rights and dignity interests of every student entrusted to your care, specifically those students who cannot undress, shower, or share a room with a member of the opposite biological sex.”
District officials dismissed the group’s concerns by alleging the regulation is only a guideline.
“CMS remains fully committed to supporting its transgender students and nurturing a safe and welcoming environment for every student and employee,” district spokeswoman Kathryn Block told WSOC.