In a new “toolkit” approved Wednesday, the Minnesota Department of Education is advising the state’s schools to “segregate” students who do not feel comfortable sharing a restroom, locker room, or hotel room with a member of the opposite biological sex; to force girls to compete against biological males in athletics; to abolish schools’ longstanding tradition of electing a homecoming king and queen; and even to change students’ identities on official school records without any documentation.
The ten-page document, titled “A Toolkit for Ensuring Safe and Supportive Schools for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students,” was adopted despite much public outcry. Over 200 people attended last night’s meeting, with many voicing their concerns about the proposed guide.
While its stated goal is to provide a welcoming place to all students, the document in fact caters to a small minority of transgender students while suggesting policies which alienate others. It tells school officials that they have the duty of ensuring transgender students can access private spaces “consistent with their gender identity.” If that makes other children feel uncomfortable or unsafe, these other students should be segregated into a private space — as long as that will not result in stigmatizing the transgender student:
Privacy objections raised by a student in interacting with a transgender or gender nonconforming student may be addressed by segregating the student raising the objection provided that the action of the school officials does not result in stigmatizing the transgender and gender nonconforming student.
However, no concern is shown for how this could stigmatize other students who must now be segregated for simply having a natural discomfort showering, changing clothes, or sharing a hotel room or bed with a classmate of the opposite sex. As John Helmberger, CEO of the Minnesota Family Council, put it: “Concerns of gender-conforming students and parents are ignored and dismissed.”
Further obliging transgender students at the expense of their classmates, the guide tells schools to let transgender students join whatever athletic teams they wish:
Transgender students should be afforded equal opportunities to play sports. A student should not be required to provide medical or other documentation that is not required of all students in order to participate, according to 2016 Title IX guidance. Title IX requires that schools provide transgender students with the right to participate in such activities, including athletics, in a manner consistent with their gender identity.
In essence, this provision requires that girls should have to compete against biological males who often have a distinct advantage on account of their different body build. And if anyone expresses opposition to this, the transgender student or student’s family are told they can make an appeal to the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL).
The guide also suggests that schools abolish or redesign a popular tradition of honoring homecoming kings and queens.
In an effort for inclusivity, schools may wish to consider revisiting existing traditions or establishing new traditions. For example, instead of electing a homecoming king and homecoming queen, some schools have chosen to nominate “prom ambassadors,” “homecoming court” or “homecoming royalty.” At the University of Minnesota, for example, the titles of homecoming king and queen have been replaced with the title “Homecoming Royalty” and students selected as royalty will now be called “royals.”
The toolkit even directs schools to allow students to change their names and/or pronouns on official school documents without requiring any proof that the student’s name has been legally changed:
Schools should not assume a student’s name͕ or pronoun. School officials should ask the student and use the requested name and pronouns. Students need not provide schools with legal documents to correct their first name or gender within their student records.
Furthermore, if a teacher is accused of “casual use of a student’s incorrect pronoun or incorrect name,” the Department of Education warns that they may be subject to a legal action under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).
Once again, an education bureaucracy is offering transgender policy suggestions, which although technically “nonbinding,” threaten noncompliance with lawsuits. In the name of “LGBT rights,” Minnesota is expanding privileges given to transgender students — but at a great expense to their classmates.