Dear Mr. Bertrand,
We cannot help but notice that your proposed policy is nearly identical to one from 2016 which we found at the website for Missouri Consultants for Education. (See below.)
We also note that your statement was posted within hours of Missouri state legislation concerning transgender students and less than two weeks from a school board election in your district, which we do not believe is coincidental. We invite voters to note such party coordination pressing into local, Board of Education races (which, by law, are meant to be non-partisan).
Furthermore, we invite you to visit our issues page, where you can learn more about the positions of the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the American Association of Pediatrics and their best practices where gender dysmorphia is concerned.
Finally, we ask you to rethink your position on parents' rights, which your party and FHFamilies have often touted. While Board of Education Directors are bound by laws in the legislature, it is clear these legislators have shirked their duty to protect many parents’ rights to follow medical advice concerning our own children.
Concerning your policy, we also have several questions:
Is this policy in keeping with current board policies concerning name changes? For example, students change last names for a myriad of reasons (student preference, family separations or divorce, death, imprisonment). Do we always require both custodial parents to approve these changes?
For example, my child who is not transgender and who is named Samantha is usually called Sam. Her whole name, Samantha, is generally reserved for scolding. None of her teachers have ever refused to call her Sam. Would you consider it discriminatory for a teacher willing to call this Samantha, “Sam,” but to refuse to call a different, transgender student named Samantha by the name, “Sam,” unless all custodial parents request the change?
According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, some individuals have been able to obtain a court order for a change of gender on birth certificates. Should administrators question this designation, would students be subject to examination?
Do you consider your bathroom policy to unduly segregate students or to risk students' learning time by asking them to take a circuitous route to a bathroom? (Please note that students who experience gender dysmorphia are already at higher risk for academic struggles and feelings of isolation.)
If parents’ rights are sacrosanct, how do you reconcile your position with the overreach of the state in this situation?
District leaders have informed us that they have not been inundated with concerns over pronoun or bathroom usage. Is the Board in the habit of creating policy to preemptively address issues that have not been or are not currently present?
The Francis Howell Forward Leadership Team