Wednesday, September 06, 2023

Why School Deadname Policies are wrong: "If a child cannot discuss their identity with their parents, the problem is with the parents, not the child"

I found both of these posts so shocking. 
The first one is a reminder about AIDS and how only within the last 20 years has our society learned to respect gender identity and gender expression. 
Post by @beingliberal
View on Threads
The AIDS crisis was a terrible time - and the casual cruelty experienced by LGBT people was so shameful.  
The second post is about how our society is reverting back to that terrible time, as conservatives seize on LBGT as a culture war issue:
And its happening in Canada too. Our Conservative politicians are pandering to the far right in New Brunswick and in Saskatchewan --and soon to come to Ontario and to the CPC convention - by promoting school policies which the media describes as innocuous "pronoun policies" but which are actually hostile "deadname policies".
Too many Canadian voters do not see these policies for what they are - a political pander to anti-trans homophobia. The Conservative goal here is a political one, not a social one. They aren't trying to protect parents' rights, but rather to create another culture war front. 
...  The Conservative Party of Canada—way up in the polls and dominating the discourse on economic issues—has decided to double down on culture war. Why? Ostensibly because they care about “freedom.” But the situation reads more like they just can’t help themselves, which is to say that their conception of freedom is rooted in a moral panic and exclusionary politics that demonize social groups that fall outside their accepted mainstream. 
Where their hatred comes from—fear, resentment, unfamiliarity, irrational prejudice—is important to understand, but secondary to the given that in a pluralist democracy, we ought to extend and protect maximal rights to exist and conditions to flourish to those who make up the textured reality of our world. 
... There’s plenty of opposition to the policy in the prairies, and these measures will meet with prolonged resistance, and almost certain court challenges. They ought to. If a child is uncomfortable discussing their name, preferred pronouns, and identity with their parents, the problem is with the parents, not the child. [emphasis mine]... 
Ontario school principals are sending a message to Ford - "don't you do it!"
The Council statement describes why a deadname policy is so harmful:
While we believe that the ideal situation would include parents and guardians in the conversations and decision making, we support current school board policy in Ontario that centers the students in the decision making and honours their right to self-identify, even when parental consent is not given, to support an equitable and inclusive learning environment. Students who do not have parental, family and community support that respects and validates them face higher risks of self-harm, emotional distress, isolation, deteriorating mental health and increased bullying. Gender-affirming practices such as honouring preferred names and pronouns help to reduce those risks and contribute to greater inclusion, belonging and success at school. 
This is the kind of thoughtful, articulate, student-centred policy that schools want.
And what the Saskatchewan public needs to understand now is that our deadname policy has nothing to do with what schools want. 
It's just a cynical distraction from Sask Party electoral woes:
But real people are being damaged by the anti-trans agenda. In his post Looking Forward, Looking Back, Parker Molloy writes: 
... In a lot of ways, things are significantly worse for trans people today than they were a decade ago. No longer curiosities that mostly flew under the radar, we’ve become a group that politicians and the press have decided to target with unrelenting hate campaigns, restrictive new laws, and other eliminationist bullshit wrapped up in faux concerns about “fairness in sports” and “the children.” 
We are constantly being talked about, often as some sort of problem to be “solved,” but very rarely do we actually get to do the talking. 
 Molloy goes on to highlight some recent posts and articles where trans people do get to talk - all of these are worth reading: 
Evan Urquhart blog Assigned Media 
Erin Reed substack Erin In The Morning 

And on a side note, I am noticing there is a new term being used by the media now for anti-gay and anti-trans homophobes -- instead of using a pejorative descriptions like "homophobe" and "TERF" (trans-exclusionary radical feminists), media are now using the more innocuous term "gender-critical feminism" or just "gender-critical". 
Sounds mild - almost intellectual - doesn't it?
Its not:


Cap said...

I don't understand the criticism of the NS or SK school policy changes. Schools routinely inform parents if their child is late or absent from school, skipping classes, not turning in assignments, disrupting classes, bullying others, or being bullied. They do this because parents are legally responsible for their children's health and well-being, and these are signs that their children may need help. Schools inform parents of these things even if the student doesn't want them to or the school suspects the parent won't do the right thing. If a school suspects a parent is abusing a child, they have a duty to report it to the CAS.

So, how does it make any sense for schools to socially transition a child without telling the parents? Are the schools going to arrange counselling or set up the doctors' appointments for gender-affirming care? No, that's the parents' responsibility. And how is that going to happen if the parents don't know? If the goal is to normalize being transgender, i really don't understand the desire for secrecy here, and neither do almost 80 percent of parents according to recent polling.

Cathie from Canada said...

Actually, Cap, schools now respect children's rights to privacy and so they don't routinely inform parents of these types of things unless the child is OK with this. In the case of trans-gender students, schools have treated this as a privacy issue too, not a "parent's rights" issue.
Yes, I know polling says that four out of five parents think they have a right to know, but I believe a student's privacy rights supercede a parent's rights.
Schools consider themselves as safe places for students, but these deadname policies make them unsafe.

Anonymous said...

I think you would find it interesting to look at the Cass Report, and also take note that the Netherlands, Sweden and Norway now all regard medicalizing children as experimental and have, based on their examination of cases, pulled back hard on using the Affirmation model. Over and over, it is found, especially in Tavistock, that children were convinced by their peers and the internet that their anxieties must SURELY be because they are "trans", because that is the flavour of the decade. These kids were mostly autistic, gay, porn addiction,suffering from sexual trauma and other abuse, and many having spent years in the foster system and these issues were ignored in favour of affirming. Watchful Waiting is now the course that agencies that have actually looked as their own data are now encouraging. No, kids don't need "privacy" to seek out the wrong solutions to their anxieties. They need adults willing to forego ideology and dig into what is actually going on with the child. Detransitioners are ringing the alarm bells, and we need to listen. Tavistock had done a huge change of course, because they actually finally listened to the whistleblowers. Please, download a copy. Its available online. And then think how the idea of gender ideology spread in schools and online contributed to children having their real root issues ignored.

Cap said...

Cathie, the media constantly inform us that transgender kids are at higher risk of suicide. If that's true, how is not telling parents that their child is at risk even remotely ethical? Children's privacy interests have never outweighed the school's obligation to report truancy, academic progress, and health and safety concerns to parents, especially when parents, not teachers, are responsible for getting children the help they need.

Anytime 4 in 5 parents think the Cons are right about anything, it's a "Houston we have a problem" moment. Pompous educators telling parents that schools know their children best show no understanding of family and what parents will do to protect their kids. And I worry that liberals siding against the vast majority of parents, including a majority of liberal parents, will get a totally corrupt Ford government re-elected.

Cathie from Canada said...

Thanks for the comments. I wasn't aware of the European research though I would take with a grain of salt any argument that teen anxiety is being exploited by mysterious forces.
Surely if young teens have been abused within their families or spent years in foster care, they need a school that will be a safe place for them, without fearing being "outed" to the authorities or parents who abused them.
I don't believe the issue is whether or not teens are really "trans" - some are, some maybe not - but whether or not schools are obliged to seek parental permission before they respect what a student is asking them to do. And all these students want schools to do is to call them by their name. Schools aren't taking on a medical role, like performing trans surgery or prescribing drugs or doing transition counselling, and quite possibly a child who erroneously believes themselves to be trans will, once they are older, change their minds - young teens do that about many things as they mature. But the voices of trans adults are the ones I think we need to listen to here, and they are saying that schools need to be a safe and respectful place for young teens.

Anonymous said...

I will give my perspective as an educator. It is only mine, and I cannot speak for the entirety of my profession.
If a child expresses, or an educator suspects, that they will be punished or abused (physical/mental/emotional) for skipping classes, poor marks, bullying, etc…then we DO NOT contact home. We take our concerns to administration, and begin the process to help that child. If a child expresses to us that they prefer using a different name/pronoun, but wishes to only be called that at school then we will abide by that. We will also do due diligence and refer the student to the (unfortunately already overworked) school counsellor. Your concern is that parents should know, and they most definitely should, but what so many in the “pro-parents rights” camp are forgetting is fear. If your child isn’t telling you something it is because they fear the response. Children who ask us to not reveal their preferred name/pronouns are genuinely afraid of the response at home. They are afraid they will not be accepted, removed from their friends or school, and in many cases afraid they will be put somewhere to “re-educate” them. Some genuinely believe one or both parents will become physically abusive. Older students genuinely believe they will be kicked out.

I want parental-rights activists to stop for a moment and ask themselves why they think they need to be fighting for this. If your children trusted you implicitly, like they would in a healthy parent-child relationship, this would be a non-issue. But the fact that this is being pushed but educators, legal professionals, community health advocates are pushing back means that there is a part of the equation being missed.

“Won’t someone think of the children!”
Yes. Please do. FOR them though, not your conceived notion of what they should be.