by Alexandra Scott
...The head of school (click here) responded by asking the student/faculty gay and lesbian support group to put on its anti-homophobia presentation for the parent community. The performance began at 7:00 p.m. on a school night. As parents filed in, I could see rigidity and a readiness to argue in the eyes of many. When the group finished its presentation, the school head slowly stood up. Everyone anticipated that he would open the floor to comments or questions. Instead, he boomed in his deepest baritone: “I could not have said it better myself.” The anger and discord in the room completely deflated. Contentious parents filed out silently. Supportive parents and students celebrated. In this pivotal moment, the school culture experienced an important seismic shift. Of the 40-plus parents who signed the petition, three withdrew their children and sent them to a very traditional boarding school. The rest of us went back to class.
I know that other schools experienced a similar cultural shift around the same time. But sadly, the shift has never felt complete. To this day, there is a level of resistance in the independent school community to fully embracing and supporting LGBT students and faculty. A few weeks ago, I met a school head who, in response to a question about whether his school has an LGBT alliance, told me the following story. “I was at a Southern school head’s conference. At the morning cracker-barrel session, three headmasters lamented turning down students who wanted gay alliances at their schools. The heads professed to believe that LGBT students are entitled to a school-sponsored club, but were unable to approve the club because of the potential parental uproar. They seemed sad about not giving approval, but were unwilling to fight the battle.”
As a former head of school and current consultant, I have fought those battles. They quickly become mean-spirited and divisive and sometimes negatively impact the school’s pocketbook. They also can put the head in professional jeopardy because most boards prize institutional peace. Getting along with neighbors tends to trump acting in the best interest of children when acting in the best interest of students challenges some parents’ beliefs....
I would hope by now there is a private and/or charter school for transgender students in the USA. There should be at least one in every major city.
The local community is still the answer to these issues. While Ultra White Christians have no desire to be educated to the reality of LGBTQ children, that does not mean the rest of the country has to do the same for the sake of political peace. Communities need to stand up for their principles and welcome all children to their public schools while providing support for students and parents are themselves confused about issues of sexual and gender identity in children and young Americans.
February 11, 2017
By Sandhya Somashekhar and Moriah Balingit
The Trump administration (click here) signaled Friday that it was changing course on the previous administration’s efforts to expand transgender rights, submitting a legal brief withdrawing the government’s objections to an injunction that had blocked guidance requiring that transgender students be allowed to use restrooms that match their gender identity.
The move by the Justice Department does not immediately change the situation for the nation’s public schools, as a federal judge had already put a temporary hold on the guidance as a lawsuit by a dozen states moved through the courts.
But it suggests that the Trump administration will take a different approach on the hotly contested issue of transgender rights, which many conservatives thought went too far under the Obama administration.
And how the Trump administration decides to proceed on the particular issue of transgender students and bathroom use would affect several other cases in which students are challenging their school districts’ policies, including one involving Virginia student Gavin Grimm, which is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court later this spring....