Parents in a Colorado school district are furious after finding out teachers might be giving secret surveys that ask about their children’s preferred pronouns.
A Controversial Email
The controversy started with an email sent to teachers by the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA), the county’s primary teacher’s union.
In the letter, JCEA officials seemed to suggest teachers were conducting surveys that asked about students’ preferred pronouns. It also advised them to use paper and pencil to avoid digital records that could be subject to federal laws.
Denice Crawford, a mother with children in the district, was a local mother who worried about her son being given the test.
She argued that the district should have obtained written consent from parents before collecting sensitive information and that she feels “Deceived, lied to, taken advantage of.”
The Law Behind It All
The letter even referenced state and federal laws that state, “Even when surveys requesting protected information are voluntary, they must be provided at least two weeks in advance to all families to opt-out.”
The Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) was also mentioned, as it safeguards the privacy of students’ education records, which include their preferred pronouns.
This means that local, state, and federal laws all agree with the parents concerned about this issue.
In response to the allegations, the JCEA issued a statement blaming the school district for giving contradictory directions regarding preferred pronouns.
The Local Union
The Union President also referenced in her statement a letter that read, “please no preferred pronoun/gender identity questionnaire. Do not promise to keep information from parents.”
The local union president’s statement then said, ‘We encourage and support educators to follow Jeffco’s district policy, which states: School staff shall not disclose information that may reveal a student’s transgender status to others, including parents and other school staff, unless legally required to do so or unless the student has authorized such disclosure.”
In the end, the letter finished with, “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.”
Though the public statement makes it clear that their policy requires teachers to make any personal questionnaire known to the parents, the letter did not address why some teachers were receiving conflicting instructions.
Parents like Susan Miller have been vocal about their concerns.
She explained that the letter let the school “leadership actually provided an avenue to get around the law… basically saying it was OK.”
Susan Miller is on the local school board and said, “The district takes this very seriously,” and demanded a retraction.
She then furthered her point, saying, “Do a corrective that says, “Hey, we were wrong. We need to abide by the laws written. They are there for a reason.”
No Retractions So Far
As this article is being written, there has still not been any retraction given by the school. At the same time, similar cases involving the private information of students have come to light around the United States.
Currently, six states have lawsuits being filed by parents that argue their 14th Amendment rights to raise their children are violated when schools do not inform them of their children’s pronouns or names.
The legal battles have reached state supreme courts and resulted in varied rulings on the disclosure of students’ gender identities.
Reacting to this story, most people seem to agree with the parents, with one social media user commenting, “keep all politics out of education: our kids need to learn how to think for themselves: not just to spout anyone’s propaganda! Left/Right: neither has the right to indoctrinate!”
Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / AndriiKoval