Chicago Teachers Union demands excluding parents from student pronoun, sexuality info

Chicago Teachers Union demands excluding parents from student pronoun, sexuality info

The Chicago Teachers Union leaders want student information regarding student pronouns and sexual orientation to be kept confidential from parents if that’s what the student wants.

The Chicago Teachers Union leadership wants to ensure students are addressed as they prefer in the classroom, but states parents are not entitled to the same information as their child’s classmates and teachers.

New York City Public Schools in June implemented a policy that allows for excluding parents from information about a student’s gender and sexuality. If a student there chooses to go by a certain name at school, teachers are instructed to call the student by a different name when interacting with parents if that is the student’s preference.

Keeping parents in the dark about a student’s gender transition has been met with lawsuits, both by teachers forced into keeping secrets from parents and against school districts requiring parents to be notified about a student changing gender. Teachers in Kansas and California sued over efforts to force them to exclude parents. A clinical psychologist who is a transgender woman joined a Maryland school legal fight saying denying transitioning teens family support was a “terrible idea.”

Chicago Public Schools already offers similar guidance on student gender and sexuality questions. “School staff shall not disclose information that may reveal a student’s transgender or non-binary identity or gender nonconforming presentation to others without the student’s consent or unless authorized by the Law Department,” district guidance states.

Here are CTU leadership’s upcoming demands for putting language in their contract on student sexuality and gender issues:

“The parties share the goal of school being a place where the identities of students and staff are respected, valued, and affirmed. We must also respect students’ privacy, especially if parents or family members do not know how students identify or express their identity.

“Similarly, while it is important for staff members to use people’s personal names and pronouns, we also know that it is possible to make mistakes unintentionally. In general, we should assume best intentions, but recognize that impact must be addressed and people should continually work to improve.

“With goals and caveats outlined above, the parties agree to the following:

“The board shall follow the CPS guidelines regarding transgender and gender non-conforming students. The board shall negotiate any adjustments to these guidelines with the union.

“The board will adopt and maintain privacy policies that explicitly assert the confidentiality of information pertaining to students’ sexual orientations and gender identities. No bargaining unit member will be required to reveal a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity without the student’s permission – even to the student’s family.

“The board shall use bargaining unit members’ personal name and pronouns at all times. The board will encourage all staff to use students’ personal name and personal pronouns, specifically distinguishing student preference in the classroom versus when communicating home to families in order to respect students’ privacy. Employees will be encouraged to ask students about how staff should refer to the student when interacting with family members before all events that include family members.

“The PPC shall select a volunteer staff member to serve as Gender Support Coordinator. The Gender Support Coordinator will be given digital space on the website to post contact information, frequently asked questions, and support resources for LGBTQ+ students and families. The Gender Support Coordinator will be given release time to attend relevant professional development. The board shall be an ally to any GSA Coordinator and provide support and protection to members teaching LGBTQ+/intersectionality topics should a member of the school community disagree with the trained educators teaching on these subjects.”

You can read the CTU’s full list of demands here.

Photo: Colin Boyle/Chicago Sun-Times via AP

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