Transgender students would be required to obtain parental consent before their gender identity can be recognized at school — which could result in the school outing them to their parents — under a new policy proposed by the Delaware Department of Education.
Regulation 225 contains the following language about parental consent:
A school shall request permission from the parent or legal guardian before accommodating a request by a minor student that the school take action to recognize a change in any Protected Characteristic. Prior to requesting such permission, to safeguard the health, safety and well-being of the student, the school shall discuss with the student the permission process and, based on its discussions with the student, assess the degree to which the parent or legal guardian is aware of the change to the Protected Characteristic. If the student does not permit the school to request permission from the parent or legal guardian, then the request to take action shall not be accepted.
If the student doesn’t give permission for the school to out them to their parents, then the school will refuse to respect the student’s identity.
The ACLU of Delaware was quick to criticize the new revision of Regulation 225. As executive director Kathleen McRae explained, “There is potential for a student to be harmed if they are forced to come out to their parents as a transgender individual before the child is ready or the parent is ready to hear that information.”
Public comment on the revised policy is open through July 6, 2018.
Though the revision to Regulation 225 appears to be designed to cater to conservatives, many conservatives in the state are still opposed to any school policy that recognizes transgender students whatsoever.
The Delaware Family Policy Council (DFPC) is encouraging its members to participate in the comment period for the revised policy by continuing to oppose it outright. And on the Facebook group “United Opposition to DE Regulation 225,” prominent posters are insisting that schools should be required to out trans kids to their parents against their wishes.
“Under no circumstances would I want there to be a secret meeting with my child regarding his or her gender without me knowing,” DFPC Executive Director Nicole Theis commented on a recent post. Theis has previously described trans kids as suffering from “confusion” and “believing they can deny biological facts and realities.”
Though Theis and other opponents of trans protections frame their arguments as concerns about “parental authority,” they are insisting upon the authority to harmfully reject their children’s gender identity. Studies have shown that respecting transgender kids’ names and pronouns is vital to their mental health.
The LGBTQ education advocacy group GLSEN offers a model policy for protecting transgender students at school. It notes that to create a safe space for those students, “it is critical that parental/guardian approval is never a prerequisite for respecting a student’s chosen name, appropriate gender, and pronouns.”