Olathe School Board outlines gender identity guidance

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OLATHE, Kan. — Olathe School Board members heard from a group Thursday night worried about how the district is handling students preferred pronouns.

The district said there’s no formal approved policy, but guidance that’s verbally been shared with teachers for some time has now been laid out in writing.

Equality Kansas of Metro Kansas City worries the system in place in Olathe could out students.

“Being outed can be a very dangerous thing for someone who is LGBTQ whether that’s a youth who is worried about what their family is going to say or someone in a social setting don’t know what their friends or peers around them are going to say,” Equality Kansas of Metro Kansas City Vice Chair Jae Moyer said.

Guidance from the school district says when a student requests to go by a preferred name and/or pronoun,  best practice is for staff to obtain parental consent.

The document goes on to say: “It is expected that building principals will acknowledge the student’s request and partner with the student and the family to the greatest extent possible in supporting the student’s request, all without causing trauma to the student during the process.”

Moyer worries about the need to involve administrators and families in classroom inclusion issues.

“At the end of the day teachers are going to be the ones that are making sure students are feeling safe and welcome in the classroom,” Moyer said.

The guidance says staff must be careful to refrain from incautious disclosure of a student’s gender status and/or sexual orientation, but also points out its commitments to working with parents and families in development of students.

The district adds decisions are evaluated on a case-by-case basis taking into account factors related to the age of the student; whether the student has developmental disabilities; protecting the privacy interests of the student; whether the communications with the parent would cause trauma to the student, and a fear for the child’s health as a result of that communication.

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