Michigan Ed Officials Create Guidelines for LGTBQ Students

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Flickr, Creative Commons)

A guide has been drafted by Michigan’s State Board of Education that would actively encourage state schools to permit students, with or without parental or medical validation, to choose their gender, pronoun, name, and bathroom preference.

Peter Hasson of The Daily Caller writes that Board President John C. Austin and Michigan State Superintendent Brian Whiston were the key players in getting the reforms written.

The guidance, in short, instructs the state’s public schools that students alone will determine their individual gender presentation.

“The responsibility for determining a student’s gender identity rests with the student. Outside confirmation from medical or mental health professionals, or documentation of legal changes, is not needed,” the guidance states.

The guidance explains that gender identity is:

“… a person’s deeply held internal sense or psychological knowledge of their own gender, regardless of the biological sex they were assigned at birth.”

It is worth noting that the guidance does not address the students’ ages and how that could affect their choice of gender without input from a parent or a doctor. In fact, writes Hasson, the guide seems to leave parents out of the process altogether.

The guidance also states that transgender and GNC (gender nonconforming) young people are being given the right to choose when, to what extent, and with whom they share private information.

The board is also clear on the issue of how to speak to parents about their children. The school is to use the student’s name and pronoun that corresponds to the student’s sexual assignment at birth. The only exception is if the parent or student has specifically asked for the opposite.

The board has directed that students are to be allowed to use the restroom that matches their gender identity. Unless the student requests otherwise, alternative restroom options such as an all-gender or single-user washroom should not be the only option.

Locker rooms would become inclusive as well. The guiding principals, however, would be safety and respect for the pupil’s gender identity and expression. If there are young people who are bothered by having students of the opposite sex in their locker rooms, those students could request an alternative changing schedule or could use another private area.

The proposal will be finalized on May 10th at the scheduled board meeting.

On the State of Michigan’s official website, the opening paragraph of a memorandum explaining the guide states that the State Board of Education and the Michigan Department of Education have joined in a campaign known as “Top 10 in 10 Years” that contains strategic goals for the improvement of state’s public schools.

One of the proposals is in place to assist in “reducing the impact of high-risk factors and providing equitable resources and access to quality educational opportunities to meet the needs of all students.”

To make progress in the areas of academics and social development and to have a safe and supportive environment, the memo concludes that all students should be treated fairly, equally, and without discrimination based on gender identity, sexual preference, and gender expression.