(Daily Caller) – An LGBTQ coordinator for a Colorado school district trained nurses to keep a student’s gender transition hidden from parents, according to a presentation obtained by the Daily Caller News Foundation.
On April 27, 2022, Poudre School District (PSD) LGBTQ Coordinator Shayna Seitchik gave a presentation, obtained by the DCNF, titled “LGBTQIA+ considerations for PSD school nurses” that taught the school’s medical professionals different gender transitioning vocabulary such as “puberty-blocking medicines,” “hormone therapy,” “top surgery” and chest “binder.” When working with students, the training advised school nurses to ask students what name and pronouns to use when calling home to ensure kids aren’t put in a “potentially unsafe situation.”
The training also advised the district nurses to “always use a student’s affirming name” whether or not it has been legally changed. Sharing information about a student’s transgender status with others, including parents, may be a violation of FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), Seitchik’s presentation states; FERPA does not mention gender identity, nor does its text explicitly prevent the sharing of a student’s gender identity with their parents.
“Transgender and non-binary students have the right to discuss and express their gender identity and expression openly and to decide when, with whom, and how much to share private information,” the training states.
Following the presentation, Seitchik followed up with a school district nurse, attempting to clarify what FERPA covers and how to address a student’s gender transition with others, April 2022 emails obtained by the DCNF show. Seitchik noted that it is the student’s right to share their gender identity, not the faculty’s.
“While a main goal is to support the student in having an affirming home for those who use a different name/pronouns at school vs at home, it is the student’s right to share their transgender status or gender identity, not ours as staff members (unless the student asks us to) and as a school we will support the student in their coming out process and them and their family with any requested resources,” Seitchik wrote.
Seitchik advises the nurse that parents have access to educational records with student’s “affirming name” but records that are kept in the possession of teachers and used for “as a personal memory aid” are not subject to FERPA, the April 27, 2022, email shows.
In April 2022, a sixth grade school counselor within PSD reached out to Seitchik asking advice regarding a list the middle school counseling team had made tracking student’s gender transitions, and whether the kids wanted their parents to know, according to emails obtained by the DCNF. Seitchik advised the counselor that staff should be in communication with each other about what name and pronouns a student uses at home versus at school to “avoid outing the student.”
“For those students who want staff to use a different name and pronouns at school than at home, it’s very important for clear communication to staff about what name and pronouns to use at school (and to correct rosters or other lists where the student would be listed with another name) and what name and pronouns to use with home to avoid outing the student to home and creating a potentially harmful situation for them,” Seitchik wrote on April 12, 2022. “Staff may need further conversations about why it’s important to use an affirming name/pronouns at school and refer to them as a different name with families.”
Students have the “general right” to keep their gender transition private, and faculty is advised not to disclose such information to parents unless given permission by the child to do so, according to PSD’s “guidelines for supporting transgender and non-binary students.” This policy is in accordance with state and federal laws, Madeline Noblett, chief information officer for PSD, told the DCNF.
“PSD allows students to be their authentic selves at school, and any gender support is driven by what the student expresses their needs to be,” Noblett told the DCNF. “The focus of staff is to support students and ensure that they do not experience discrimination while accessing their free and public education; it is NOT their focus to keep secrets from parents/guardians. PSD will not lie to parents/guardians. Our guidelines align with state and federal laws regarding discrimination. PSD encourages students to talk with their families and honors each individual’s autonomy about whether to come out and, if so, when and how and to whom.”
A month after the sixth grade counselor emailed Seitchik about tracking student’s gender transitions, a school district counselor reached out to Seitchik asking if it was appropriate for the counseling team to create a list of transgender students in an effort to avoid “dead names,” an email shows. It is unclear if Seitchik advised the counselor on how to handle the list.
In 2021, a “genderqueer shapeshifter” gave a professional development training session to PSD educators detailing the “do’s & don’ts with language around trans identity” and “the importance of pronouns.” The training for K-12 counselors explained how to “be a better ally” and the difference between sex assigned at birth, gender identity and gender expression.
“PSD supports our students in having autonomy over when and how they come out and to whom,” Noblett told the DCNF. “There are instances in which a student may not be yet out, at school or at home. A counselor will talk with the student to discuss the manner, time and message of that disclosure. This includes working with the student in coming out to their family and others, as appropriate, and collaborating with families to promote consistent gender support.”
School districts throughout the country are moving to hide student’s gender transitions; some of the nation’s largest school systems including Los Angeles Unified School District, Chicago Public Schools and New York Public Schools require educators to keep students’ change in pronouns a secret from their parents.