A Colorado affiliate of the nation’s largest teachers union, the National Education Association, told its teachers to destroy any evidence of having given students a gender identity survey, according to a recent report.
CBS Colorado notes that while the JeffCo Public Schools district says it is “unclear” whether surveys about “preferred pronouns” are in violation of state law, it advised teachers against using them as lawsuits are ongoing.
Federal and state law forbid mandatory surveys that ask about kids’ “protected information,” and voluntary surveys must include a parent opt-out.
But an email from the Jefferson County Education Association told teachers that if they give such surveys, to make sure to they are pencil and paper … because “any digital records are more permanent and may be requested under federal law.”
The email also “encouraged” teachers to “make […] notations about students and not hold on to the documents.”
The union claims the district has “given contradictory directions” about such surveys; however, information sent by the district to teachers clearly states “please no preferred pronoun/gender identity questionnaire. Do not promise to keep information from parents.”
JeffCo parents claim that since the union’s guidance, “dozens” of district teachers have made use of gender identity surveys. Parents say they’re not opposed to students using preferred pronouns and respect transgender students’ right not to be “outed,” just to the union telling teachers “to break the law and hide the evidence.”
“The leadership actually provided an avenue to get around the law and basically saying it was OK,” says school board member Susan Miller.
She says the union put teachers’ jobs at risk – those that violate the law can lose their licensure.
[Parent Denice] Crawford says it also put teachers relationship with parents at risk.
“I don’t feel I can trust the teachers,” she said.
She says she reported her son’s survey to his principal but hasn’t heard back. She says she’s not anti-LGBTQ. Her nephew, she says is transgender and her daughter is gay.
“This is not political. It’s just they’re breaking the law,” she said.
When asked what action should take place she responded, “the same thing that would happen to anybody breaking the law accountability and correction.”
Miller agrees, “I want parents to know the district takes this very seriously.”
JCEA President Brooke Williams (pictured) avoided the issue of telling teachers to trash evidence of gender-related surveys, and instead reiterated district policy and complained about the “politicization” of the matter.
“By allowing students an optional avenue to share their preferred pronouns while maintaining student privacy, we can better ensure that students feel safe, respected, and validated,” Williams said in a statement. “Transgender and gender nonconforming students have the right to discuss and express their gender identity and expression openly and to decide when, with whom, and how much to share private information.”
IMAGES: Seamartini Graphics/Shutterstock.com; Jefferson County Education Association