Lee schools’ plan would require students to ask parents before changing pronouns

Published: July 26, 2022 6:17 PM EDT
Updated: July 26, 2022 6:24 PM EDT

The Lee County School Board discussed a plan that would require parental notification if a student wants to change their pronouns, and name, or use a bathroom that matches their gender identity.

Lee County schools are considering a so-called voluntary form students would need to fill out if they wanted to change their gender identity at school.

The form includes various questions on topics ranging from extra-curricular activities to dress code.

Lee County school needs a plan for administrators, teachers and staff to handle what’s become a divisive issue.

After nearly a year of citizen and school district discussion, the district came up with what it calls a civil rights and equity guide.

“Our children are entitled every accommodation, every reasonable and appropriate accommodation, that we can provide to them,” said School Board member Chris Patricca.

One big piece of the puzzle is the gender support plan.

“The gender support plan is a confidential plan between the parent, the student, and the school. It is not required of students,” said Chuck Bradley, Director of Positive Prevention, Lee District Schools.

The plan is designed for students who are transgender.

The plan states students need parents to sign off if the student wants to go by different pronouns, wants to use a different bathroom or locker room, or if they want to go by a different name.

“If a child wants to be addressed a certain way, I think they should be allowed to be addressed that certain way, but I don’t think we should go to the parents,” said Arlene Goldberg, the co-founder of Visuality, a community center set up for the LGBTQ community.

The gender support plan sounds like no support at all to her.

“It’s going to keep some of them in the closet when they really should be coming out,” Goldberg said.

The school district said it will go over every situation on a case-by-casis.

If something like which bathroom to use becomes an issue, the district will encourage the student to use a gender-neutral bathroom.

One thing school board members discussed is putting up dividers in locker rooms for a separate changing space.

No final decision has been made on the plan.

Once the plan is final, it would be voluntary and confidential.