A North Carolina school district is facing criticism after a parental rights nonprofit revealed a district-wide policy urging staff to not disclose to parents if children have changed their gender identity.
Parents Defending Education (PDE) published an official presentation from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School District Board of Education, which instructed personnel to not tell a parent when their child changes gender ideology.
The district’s policy also allows transgender students to use the bathroom or locker room that corresponds to the gender with which they identify, as well as placing transgender students in rooms and activities consistent with how they identify.
The guidance on transgender issues is categorized by the board of education under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which was established to protect disclosure of student education records. The law affords parents certain rights regarding education records, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Those rights transfer to the child when he or she reaches the age of 18. There is no provision under FERPA for educators to withhold information about a student from their parents.
According to the presentation, “students can request a preferred name and pronoun” and officials note that “parent/guardian consent [is] not needed.”
School board officials state that personnel should not disclose information that could reveal a student’s transgender status, and that staff are required to address students by whatever name they choose that corresponds to their gender identity.
The district’s presentation also includes a section on how to address situations in which the transgender student’s parent is unaware or disapproves of their child changing gender identities.
“In deciding whether to involve a student’s parents or guardian in developing a plan, school staff should work closely with the student to assess the degree to which, if any, the parent or guardian will be involved in the process and must consider the health, wellbeing and safety of the student,” school officials write.
The policy states, “Currently no duty for school to report transgender states to parents.”
School officials also advise staff to use their own discretion in determining if parental involvement is “needed or desired” and advises school personnel to use a child’s legal name and pronoun that corresponds with their sex when contacting a disapproving parent or guardian of a transgender or gender nonconforming student.