By Corinne Murdock |
Mesa Public Schools (MPS) appeared hesitant in a recent governing board meeting to discuss the secretive gender transition plan, which had been in place for years. Most parents were unaware of the plan until recently, which included an opt-out provision allowing the school to keep the plan secret from parents.
Governing board member Rachel Walden attempted to discuss this gender transition plan during Tuesday’s meeting. However, the district lawyer said that discussion of the plan constituted legal advice and would require the board to go into an executive session, out of the public’s view. The form’s promise of secrecy conflicted with Arizona’s parental rights laws.
“There is no other process that involves plans, paperwork for children without parental consent. But this issue can’t even provide parental notification?” asked Walden.
Walden clarified that, following discovery of the parental notification opt-out provision of the gender transition plan, MPS modified the form to strike the provision.
MPS has reportedly had the controversial gender transition plan since 2015. The original form asked students if their parents were aware and/or supportive of their gender transition. If either are answered in the negative, the form asks the student whether they give consent for the school to disclose their “transgender or gender nonconforming status” to their parents.
Arizona law states that parents have “a right to access and review all records relating to the minor child.”
The current version of the MPS gender transition plan looks virtually the same as the prior version, with the exception that parents or guardians will be notified of the plan if the student requests changes to Synergy, the online student information portal.
The MPS plan appears to be based on model documents. Chicago Public Schools issued a gender transition plan document with similar formatting and the same title.
Controversy over the gender transition plan surged last summer, after the district implemented new guidelines for handling transgender students. MPS defended its actions, arguing that their guidelines aligned with federal guidelines.
The guidelines included an assertion that students had the right to be addressed by their preferred names and pronouns, regardless of whether they had their name legally changed. MPS further declared that students should be allowed to use facilities intended for the opposite sex, such as restrooms, locker rooms, shower facilities, and single-sex classes.
Students also aren’t required to provide proof that they underwent any kind of medical treatment for gender transition as a condition of this special treatment.
“A transgender student is not required to provide verification that the student is undergoing or has undergone medical treatment for the purpose of gender transition as a condition for changing a student’s name and/or gender markers in the District’s records,” read the guidelines.
MPS also asserted that students must be allowed to participate in physical education activities and sports in accordance with their gender identity, though they could not compete in teams designated for the opposite sex in accordance with Arizona law.
Corinne Murdock is a reporter for AZ Free News. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.