Parents in Jefferson County, Colorado, claim that some school teachers were instructed on how to get around state and federal laws prohibiting schools from conducting surveys about students’ “gender identities” by their teachers union.
According to CBS, school administrators told teachers to not conduct surveys on preferred pronouns out of an abundance of caution while lawsuits on the matter go to court, but the Jefferson County Education Association (JCEA) told teachers a way around the policy.
An email sent to teachers from the union said, “If you do a questionnaire, please make it a paper and pencil activity – any digital records are more permanent and may be requested under federal law.” It added, “Make your notations about students and not hold on to the documents.”
School board member Susan Miller told the outlet, “The leadership actually provided an avenue to get around the law and basically saying it was OK.” She noted that the union, which is supposed to protect teachers, instead put them at risk of losing their jobs and licenses.
“I want parents to know the district takes this very seriously,” Miller added.
Before the start of the year the school district told all teachers that state and federal laws prohibit mandatory surveys that ask kids for protected information, and parents must be afforded the option to opt out of voluntary surveys or they too are illegal. A slide sent to teachers at the beginning of the year specifically stated, “Please no preferred pronoun/gender identity questionnaire. Do not promise to keep information from parents.”
One parent who has three kids in the district, Denice Crawford, said she felt “Deceived, lied to, taken advantage of” when her son came home with a survey that asked about his gender. She added, “I don’t feel I can trust the teachers.”
Crawford said, “This is not political. It’s just they’re breaking the law.” She added that she wants “accountability and corrections” just as “would happen to anybody breaking the law.”
In a statement to the outlet, JCEA President, Brooke Williams said, “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.” The statement continued, “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. 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.”