A high school teacher in Jacksonville, Florida has been “counseled” and his colleagues will get training to ensure an “inclusive [school] environment” after a student’s preferred pronoun request was denied.
According to an email exchange obtained by First Coast News, Sandalwood High School’s Thomas Caggiano told the student “I will NOT refer to you with female pronouns. If this is not acceptable for you, change classes.”
Caggiano continued: “I will call you by any reasonable name you like, but the pronouns are not a negotiable thing for me.”
When informed by the student of Caggiano’s remarks, Sandalwood Principal Saryn Hatcher said she would “handle it.”
District policy specifically addresses transgender issues, noting that students should be addressed by the name/pronoun “with which they are comfortable (examples include “They/Them and Ze/Zir”), are allowed to wear clothing associated with their gender identity, and are permitted play on sports teams which correspond to their “consistently asserted gender identity.”
— morgan (@morgananic) August 8, 2019
Duval County Public Schools spokesperson Laureen Ricks said Caggiano’s comments were “regrettable” and that staff would be “undergoing additional training to ensure an inclusive environment at school.”
“It was unfortunate that it happened and is not consistent with our expectations,” […] Ricks wrote in an email. “However, it has served as a teachable moment and allowed for constructive dialogue among our school community. As [Superintendent] Dr. [Diana] Greene has shared, ‘We all have an experience of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and we all deserve to feel comfortable expressing those identities.'”
Ricks says that the teacher has been counseled, but it was not immediately clear if he would face discipline. She said the matter has been referred to the district’s Office of Equity and Inclusion/Professional Standards, which can conduct an investigation.
First Coast News notes “several commenters” on Twitter took Caggiano to task for his remarks (The Fix counted fewer than five under searches of “Thomas Caggiano” and “Sandalwood High School”), and linked to Duval’s (Equity & Inclusion) Complaint Procedures page.
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