(Daily Caller News Foundation) – The Department of Education (ED) held an under-the-radar student panel featuring a transgender eighth-grader and several students that participate in an LGBTQ advocacy organization, according to a video obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
The ED held the presentation titled “Creating Inclusive and Nondiscriminatory School Environments for LGBTQI+ Students” on June 21, which featured several panels that discussed how to create more “inclusive” environments within schools, according to a video taken by Higher Ground, a parental rights group, and provided to the DCNF. The panel included several LGBTQ activist teenagers and an eighth-grade transgender student who advocated for hormones and discussed reporting students who “dead-name” others.
“I cannot stress enough also, please just let [my generation] access their health care that they need, because I just started estrogen and I have never felt even more like a woman if I’m being honest,” the student during the panel. “Like I feel so womanly, and I feel so much more like myself and it just feels so good. I have never been happier.”
The ED presentation included officials from its department, the Department of Justice and the Department of Health and Human Services, according to an archived version of the webinar’s website. The website noted that the event was closed to the press and was for teachers, staff and school leaders looking to create “supportive school environments for LGBTQI+ students and all students.”
The eighth-grader spoke about a time another student had to be reported to the school district administration for using the transgender student’s biological name, according to the video.
“I have had to report people at school a lot more than I would have wanted to this year for multiple reasons, like dead-naming, misgendering, slurs,” the eighth-grade student said. “But the time that I did get dead-named, I was literally like freaking out. I was like ‘how? I haven’t told anyone my dead-name since like five-years-old ever since I first transitioned.”
“A day later [the principal] was like ‘[the student] confessed, he was very sorry’ blah blah blah, ‘he will get lunch detention,” the student continued. “And I was like yes. I feel heard. He is getting punished. Sucker. When you mess with me, you have to pay.”
One student on the panel spoke about being an ally to the LGBTQ community and encouraged others to speak up to make those who have different views “uncomfortable,” the video showed.
“You can’t change other peoples’ minds regarding racism and homophobia, but you can change their comfortability level on what they are willing to say in public,” the student said. “Speak up, just say something even if it is something small. Just make them uncomfortable saying racist and homophobic things, because that is not the world I want to live in or anyone else wants to live in.”
Another transgender student, who is a member of GLSEN, an LGBTQ activist group, discussed feeling most “affirmed” about being LGBTQ when an Alabama school principal checked if the student’s gender transition should be kept a secret from their parents, the video showed.
“I remember that day I was wearing my rainbow belt and my principal also knew that I was the president of our GSA [Gay Straight Alliance club] at the time. So he called me to his office, and I was so confused why he was calling me into his office because everybody is right here, say what you need to say,” the Alabama student said. “But he pulled me aside and he was like, ‘are you out to your mom?’ ‘What name should I use when I talk to her?’ ‘What pronouns do you use?’ and things of that nature. I just remember chills going through my body.”
Across the country, school districts, teachers, parents and lawmakers are debating how to address gender identity and sexual orientation within the classroom; in Maryland, parents protested against a school board that is refusing to let them opt their child out of lessons on gender identity and sexual orientation. A California school board voted to keep a policy that requires educators to keep students’ gender transitions from their parents, despite backlash.
“I feel like I haven’t met any queer teachers just yet but knowing that they are out there, like you said, it gives me hope so that hopefully someday way in the future, my kids, if I even have them, will have that representation,” the eighth-grade student said in the video. “The more progressive the world gets, the more representation we will have.”
The ED did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.