We have all heard the accusations fly about our school district not supporting parental rights. These concerns have been described as the choice to mask our children, distance vs. in-person learning, curriculum transparency and gender identity. These topics have been spoken about repeatedly over the past 14 months at school board meetings, discussed at length in many online forums and most recently, brought up in the Superintendent Listening and Learning tours. The district has given varied responses to concerned parents and many of them lack substance and are unsatisfactory.
This is why Lakers4Change was born. Many of the parents that are involved in our group were unknown to each other before summer of 2021. Many of these parents found each other at school board meetings after they spoke about concerns. Some of these parents even reached out through the website when they learned what this group stood for. We support the rights of parents to protect their children.
A PLSAS data request was recently received and forwarded to our group after a parent reached out informing us that they were having trouble getting confirmation from the school board and district administration about policy in regards to gender identity bathroom and locker room usage. This parent claims that it took two weeks of email exchanges for the district to verify that gender identity determines what facilities a student uses. What does this mean?
Well, in the last Superintendent Listening and Learning tour, Dr. Michael Thomas allegedly stated that “girls use girls bathrooms and boys use boys bathrooms.” But, this is where the district is not clear. According to the data request sent to us, in an email from the district’s MARSS Coordinator, in the Infinite Campus explanation under “Legal Name and Gender Fields”, The legal name and gender fields are available to differentiate from names by which the person wants to be referred (not a nickname) and their legal name and gender record (that which is on the person’s birth certificates). For example, persons who are transgender may prefer to keep that information as private as possible. District and school staff will need to know this information, maybe even teachers; but for the most part, the majority of the school staff and students would not have any reason to know a transgender person is enrolled at the school. The majority of the school staff and students would not have any reason to know a transgender person is enrolled at the school. This explains why Dr. Thomas is “technically” telling the truth. If a student IDENTIFIES as a different gender than what they are born as, they are what they identify as and therefore, “girls use girls bathrooms and boys use boys bathrooms.”
Per the parent that reached out regarding their interaction with the district on policy about gender identity and bathroom/locker room use, the district did not offer a policy other than the Equity and Inclusion Resolution and this MN court case. Perhaps, because our district doesn’t have a policy but rather a procedure?
Many parents do not realize that a policy must be immediately available online but procedures do not. That is another area that presents transparency concerns for parents. Policy may state one thing and procedures may dictate another and these procedures may not be easily accessible or known to parents. (see the email below where it states “Our district is working on a “procedure” rather than a policy to address this issue.” The issue being legal name and gender identities on Infinite Campus.)
There has been much speculation and concern among parents regarding children being allowed to identify differently at school and parents not being informed. This has not yet been verified but is a hot button topic on both the news and social media. The ethical argument being, who’s right is it to decide whether to support gender identity changes in children? The parents? If not the parents, then who?
Several email exchanges were found in the PLSAS data request sent to us that support these parents’ concerns. For example, Image 1, a Google Form given to students that asks questions such as If you have a preferred name, what is it? Followed by the answer options, With everyone/When I speak to your family/When I speak to other teachers, but not your family/In class in front of other students, but not any adults/Only one-on-one. These answer options were also available for the question, If your pronouns do not match the sex on your school records, when should I use them? This would suggest that parents are not being fully informed of what is going on with their children when at school. Or does it?
Some of the emails show correspondence between teachers and staff and indicate that parents are indeed not being informed of their children’s gender and name identity discrepancies when they are at school. In fact, one email in particular shows that some teachers are actually uncomfortable with the ask to use a student’s preferred pronouns and name at school but not when communicating with the parents.
This type of activity without the parent or guardian’s knowledge is unethical at best. Why would secrets be kept from a child’s own family? Why would teachers be asked to lie? Where do we as parents and guardians draw the line and even if we draw a line, does that line mean anything to the adults that are responsible for our precious children?
And finally, to confirm that the current board and administration is complicit in these types of procedures, listen to incumbent Enrique Velazquez from the October 12th candidate forum in Savage. He states that the district will honor the request of children that identify differently, “it’s not necessarily a parent decision that that comes forward, however, those decisions, by policy, are made by that individual . . . from the moment they get onto the bus, to the moment that they get back home.” If there was any reason for Michael Nelson to “worry,” it should be because parents finally know that they have been hiding the truth!
The Lakers4Change endorsed candidates Lisa Atkinson, Amy Bullyan, Bill Markert and Geoff Zahn intend to protect parental rights and bring transparency to this district.