Dear School Board members,
I'm writing you as the Equity Chair for the Hunt District PTA and as an LCPS parent to urge you to discuss and make appropriate changes to policies related to the misgendering of transgender students in LCPS classrooms.
In 2019 LCPS included gender identity and sexual orientation in the approved Policy 1040 revision. Requiring school administration to verify pronoun changes for transgender and gender-fluid students with parents is a violation of the protections of the policy, as this requirement is only in place for gender-diverse students, not the student body as a whole.
Affirming pronoun requests is one of the important ways we can support gender diverse students, faculty, and staff within our schools. An individual is aware of and capable of deciding on the pronouns they wish to identify as by a young age (see Olson, K.R., & Gülgöz, S. (2018). Early Findings from the TransYouth Project: Gender Development in Transgender Children. Child Development Perspectives, 12(2), 93-97.) Denial or refusal to support and affirm these choices is an equity issue and does not foster a safe and supportive learning environment. It is also detrimental to the mental health of students and staff impacted by intentional misgendering.
The Hunt District PTA and the National PTA are committed to diversity, equity and inclusion. This commitment includes representation and respect for sexual orientation and gender identification. We hope that the LCPS School Board will continue to support gender diverse students by allowing for self-identification without requiring parental permission. A full list of Trans Student Policy Recommendations, created by multiple non-profits and government agencies, includes many recommendations that the board should support as well. A copy of this document was submitted to the VDOE in June of this year and is attached for your review and consideration.
Thank you for your time. We look forward to working closely with members of the Equity Committee and the School Board as you make decisions to support our LGBTQ+ students, faculty, and staff by adopting and enforcing affirming policies for all Loudoun County Public Schools.
Hunt District PTA
In 2019, LCPS included gender identity and sexual orientation into their Equal Opportunity (1040) policy. This requires that all schools provide an equitable and safe working and learning environment for LGBTQ+ faculty, staff, and students. Affirming LGBTQ+ students is an important part of this policy, as well as stopping and preventing anti-LGBTQ+ speech and bullying. Affirming LGBTQ+ students and adults is a practice in suicide prevention. These students are at a higher risk for suicidal ideation than their heterosexual and cisgender peers. How do we do this important job?
One way is for PTAs to be aware of and encourage the implementation of LGBTQ+ affirming policies (i.e. using a student's chosen pronouns in class) and training for faculty and staff that support LGBTQ+ students. For example, right now LCPS requires parent permission for a student to use pronouns other than those listed on registration documentations. Requiring parental consent for only gender-diverse students is contrary to the 1040 policy LCPS has adopted.
Model policies for transgender youth are expected to be adopted for the 2021-2022 school year. Equality VA shared the following guidance for schools related to pronoun use:
PTA's should play a role in advocating for and supporting the implementation of these policies at the local level. According to the 2019 Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network (GLSN) VA Climate Survey, we learned that most secondary schools are not safe (i.e. affirming or free from bias and bullying) for LGBTQ+ students. This should matter to all parents, teachers, and students.
Schools should be safe for all. Contribute to improving the climate of your school by speaking out and advocating for protections for all LGBTQ+ faculty, staff, and students at your local school(s).
For more information please visit the Equity VA website or NOVA Resources for Parents for more information and ways to get involved.