In a development that has sparked ongoing debates on parental rights and educational policies in the United States, Parents Defending Education, an organisation advocating for parents' rights in education, has released an updated list this month, indicating that 1,044 American school districts "openly state that district personnel can or should keep a student’s transgender status hidden from parents."
The list, last updated on September 11, provides a comprehensive overview of school districts that endorse this practice, adding another layer to the complex conversation surrounding gender identity in educational settings.
"We are still getting tips that are pouring in every day," President of Parents Defending Education Nicole Neily said to Just the News. "We actually released this number initially in March, and then we identified about 200 counties....this number keeps growing across the country."
Neily elaborated that state school board associations and LGBTQ activist groups are the driving forces behind the promotion of these ideas.
"These associations are not parents' friends and we're really trying to remind families of that as well," she continued. "So these are policies that are being pushed by activist groups like GLSEN and the Trevor Project that are saying the families are inherently not safe."
The Trevor Project and GLSEN are advocacy organizations centered on LGBTQ youth, aiming to heighten awareness of challenges these young individuals may encounter within educational settings.
GLSEN's suggested guidelines for school districts outline that for elementary school students:
If school staff believe that a gender identity or expression issue is presenting itself and creating difficulty for the child at school, approaching parents about the issue is appropriate at the elementary level.
Concurrently, GLSEN advocates that school districts implement a policy for secondary school students which states, "Generally, notification of a student’s parent about his or her gender identity, expression or transition is unnecessary, as they are already aware and may be supportive. In some cases, however, notifying parents carries risks for the student, such as being kicked out of the home."
A poll conducted earlier this year revealed that 75% of U.S. voters are in favor of mandating schools to obtain parental consent before aiding in a student's gender-identity transition, according to data released by Parents Defending Education. The survey was carried out between March 15-20 by CRC Research, on behalf of Parents Defending Education, and involved 1,600 registered voters. It has a margin of error of 2.45%.
The poll further indicates partisan differences, showing that Republicans (86%) are more inclined than Democrats (69%) to endorse a policy requiring educators or school staff to inform parents if their child wishes to use alternative names or pronouns at school. The survey also highlights racial nuances, revealing that Black voters are slightly more likely to back such a policy, at 78%, compared to 77% among white voters.
Neily added that the issue of parents' rights ought to transcend partisan lines and serve as a unifying concern for all.
"It's not a partisan issue," she said. "Children do better when families are involved in their lives. You can supplement their education. You can ask questions. You know your child, but we're being held at arm's length. We're being told [by certain teachers unions] 'We're with your kids eight hours a day, so we know them better than you do.'"