Undercover video of a Wake County, North Carolina Parent Teacher Association (PTA) “Diversity and Equity Inclusion Conference” reveals a lengthy discussion on when parents do and do not need parental consent to affirm a child’s gender identity when it differs from their biological sex.
Activist and homeschool mom Kari Donovan attended the virtual meeting and is raising the alarm about what was discussed among the educators, including comments that school officials may not need to contact the parent about “every certain little thing.”
Kori Hennessey, the Director of Education & Programs at LGBT Center of Raleigh, reportedly facilitated the Transgender 101 meeting on March 20 with women from the Wake County PTA.
Donovan’s footage begins with a discussion on how to address a child who wishes to use a pronoun inconsistent with their birth records when parents do not consent. In North Carolina, they noted, a parent must consent to legally change a child’s birth records to be consistent with their gender identity.
“Can the school give the children resources and affirm the child without the parent’s support? Where are the lines of parental rights and well-being of the child,” one of the participants, Tisha Shah, asked Hennessey.
Donovan notes that a moderator had just removed a parent for asking a question that was inadequately “affirming” for their discussion.
Hennessey explained that educators may not need to seek parental consent for everything, as it happens.
“There are situations where there needs to be, especially with a child who is with school counselors; there is a confidentiality part of that, right? Where, if a student is coming to you as a counselor saying like, look, I really, you know just want to talk this out, and there is confidentiality… there are things. unless the student is showing that they are going to harm themselves or harm others… there is a part where.. a point where… you know there is… you do… you don’t need to be connecting… or contacting the parents for every certain little thing, right?” the facilitator, who prefers the pronouns they/them, said.
“Right, right,” Shah agreed.
“And I know that gets to be very ah… the lines kind of get confusing and blurred because you are like ok, so what is the responsibility, what is a liability of the school, etc., etc.. however, there are resources that you all are able to provide by the student, and I think that at a point then you can’t say, ok, well I am going to give you advice, and I am going to do this, or this or this.. right?” Hennessey continued.
The LGBT educator went on to point to The Trevor Project, an organization that provides educational resources for those counseling transgender youth.
Mental health counselor Lora Pilcher also noted that while parents in North Carolina need to consent to change a child’s birth records, teachers can easily just refer to a child with the name and pronouns they prefer in the classroom.
“Well, the best thing to be affirming for me is to …that you are going to need the parent’s permission to legally change the name on the birth certificate, that is something that North Carolina just passed that you are going to legally be able to use their preferred names on their documents, you on their school documents and on their transcripts and on their graduation certificate things like that so that obviously would require parents permission,” Pilcher explained.
“But really, to be affirming, you can use their names in the classroom like as you are referring to them, and that goes miles with students, that is really what they want, can you use my correct pronouns and my correct name. I can not tell you how many times working with youth that I hear my teacher won’t use my correct pronouns, they purposefully misgender me, they purposefully use the wrong names,” Picher continued.
You can view the full video here.
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