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Must a Teacher Defy Parents Over a Student’s Gender Identity?


Must a Teacher Defy Parents Over a Student’s Gender Identity?

Opinion by Conor Friedersdorf (The Atlantic, 10 Jan 2023)

Meet Michael, a 4-year-old who “usually comes to school in jeans and a T-shirt but always goes to the dress-up area as soon as he arrives and puts on a dress or skirt.” The preschooler is the subject of a 2019 case study in the education journal Young Children’s “Focus on Ethics” column, a recurring feature about how educators ought to respond in fraught situations––in this real case, a parent objecting to their child’s gender expression.

Take off that skirt, Michael’s mother tells her child one day while volunteering in the classroom. She orders him instead to put on firefighter gear, a cowboy hat, or “something that boys do,” the authors Stephanie Feeney, Nancy K. Freeman, and Katie Schaffer recount. Later, the parent tells the teacher, Ana, that Michael “plays female roles at home and shows little interest in toys and activities typically associated with boys.” She asks Ana to prohibit Michael from playing with “girl stuff” at school. “Ana also has observed that Michael strongly prefers playing with girls,” the authors add, “and chooses activities that are stereotypically feminine, like having tea parties and wearing dress-up clothes that have lots of ribbons and sequins. He also frequently tells the other children that he is really a girl and that he wants to be called ‘Michelle.’”

What should Ana do?

Because the parent is the legal guardian of someone that is a minor and if there are no protections for minor LGBT youth, there's not a lot the teacher can do. Maybe educate the parent on the consequences of their forcing their kid to align with the parents desires vis a vis gender. A good case study is lealah alcorn where the mother put her social acceptance above her child's life(IMO). I wonder what state this was?


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