Ray Carter | March 16, 2023
Union advises teachers to hide information from parents
In recent years, Oklahoma lawmakers have voted to restrict access to school bathrooms based on sex, and have voted to prevent males from competing in girls’ sports as transgender females.
But even with those laws on the books, a guidebook provided by the Oklahoma Education Association (OEA) to its members advises teachers to do the opposite.
That same guidance also advises teachers on ways to keep parents in the dark if a child expresses interest in a transgender identity, apparently even in situations where the child is in pre-K and/or has intellectual disabilities.
The website of the OEA, the state’s largest teachers’ union, includes an “LGBTQ+ Advocacy Toolkit” page* for its teacher members.
Among the materials provided to teachers through that web page is “Schools In Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools,” a document produced by the National Education Association (NEA) and likeminded groups.
The guide tells teachers that the “expression of transgender identity, or any other form of gender-expansive behavior, is a healthy, appropriate and typical aspect of human development.” The document also states that children begin expressing gender identity “between the ages of two and four years old” and instructs teachers that they should never encourage a student to express their gender based on a student’s sex even if there is concern that a student “lacks capacity or ability to assert their gender identity or expression (e.g., due to age, developmental disability or intellectual disability).”
“A student’s age and maturity — or that of their peers — should never be a basis for denying a transgender student an opportunity to transition in a safe and supportive environment,” the NEA teachers’ guide states.
If a teacher believes a student’s parents may not support their male child identifying as a girl, or vice versa, the NEA guide provides instructions on ways to keep parents out of the loop as school officials work to transition the child.
That point is stressed repeatedly throughout the document.
“Privacy and confidentiality are critically important for transgender students who do not have supportive families,” the NEA guide states.
Elsewhere, the guide similarly declares, “Any decision to raise the topic with parents must be made very carefully and in consultation with the student. In some instances, a school may choose not to bring the subject up if there is a concern that parents or caregivers may react negatively.”
The guide suggests that schools effectively keep two sets of records for students who express interest in a transgender identity—one set that is used within the school setting, and a separate set provided to parents or other entities outside the school district.
“Maintain a copy of the student’s birth certificate or other identity document that reflects the student’s name and sex as assigned at birth under lock and key in the principal’s office, while the student information system has the name and gender marker that correspond to the student’s gender identity,” the NEA guide states.
Similarly, the guide advises, “Use the student’s chosen name and gender in the student information system, but switch it to the student’s legal name and gender just before uploading the information to the state department of education’s database.”
In a section on “Unsupportive Parents or Caregivers,” the NEA guide informs teachers they should discuss several related topics with a transgender-identifying student, including how “to refer to the student when communicating with the student’s parents” and siblings, both in writing and verbally.
School employees are also encouraged to pressure parents into adopting affirmative stances regarding transgender issues. The guide declares it “is important to educate the student’s family members about the serious consequences of refusing to affirm their child’s gender identity.”
In divorce cases and related custody disputes where one parent does not support their child being transitioned to a different gender status, the guide says that “it is best to allow neutral professionals like educators to assess and identify the child’s needs and recommend a course of action to address them,” including via participation in court proceedings.
The NEA guide also declares that a “crucial element in supporting a transitioning student is giving them access to sex-separated facilities, activities or programs based on the student’s gender identity,” including restrooms, locker rooms, health and physical education classes, competitive athletics and overnight field trips.
Regarding sleeping arrangements on overnight school trips, the guide directs teachers, “If students are to be separated based on gender, then the transgender student should be allowed to room with peers that match their gender identity.”
The document also states that school officials will need to engage in “some planning for issues like room assignments, chaperones and showers” when male and female students room together due to a student’s self-proclaimed gender identity.
If other students object to rooming with or sharing locker rooms and showers with a transgender student—such as girls objecting to having to share overnight accommodations with a biological male – the NEA guide says school officials should tell the students who object “that a transgender student’s mere presence does not constitute inappropriate behavior.”
“Any student who feels uncomfortable sharing facilities with a transgender student should be allowed to use another more private facility like the bathroom in the nurse’s office, but a transgender student should never be forced to use alternative facilities to make other students comfortable,” the NEA guide states.
The guide reiterates that point a second time, declaring, “Again, a transgender student should never be forced or pressured into using alternate facilities just to make students or school personnel more comfortable.”
The NEA guide also states that male students who identify as females should be allowed to compete in girls’ athletic events, and vice-versa. The guide declares that “schools and districts should allow transgender students to compete on athletic teams based on gender identity.”
The issue of male-to-female transgender athletes competing against biological females has drawn national attention as women have increasingly objected.
A 2020 lawsuit filed on behalf of three high-school girls in Connecticut noted that in 2017 “thousands of men and boys achieved times in the 400m faster than the best lifetime performances of three women Olympic champions in that event. Each year, thousands of men—and dozens or hundreds of high school boys under the age of 18—achieve times (or heights or distances) in track events better than the world’s single best elite woman competitor that year.”
In 2019, Doriane Lambelet Coleman, a professor of law at Duke Law School, similarly testified before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary that because of basic biological differences, “even at their absolute best, the women would lose to literally thousands of boys and men, including to thousands who would be considered second tier in the men’s category.”
One study published in March 2020 in “The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism” found that even after a year of female hormone treatment males “generally maintained their strength levels.” A similar study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that the athletic advantages recorded by males prior to female hormone treatment were reduced by hormone treatment, but that “transwomen still had a 9% faster mean run speed after the 1 year period of testosterone suppression that is recommended by World Athletics for inclusion in women’s events.”
The NEA guide dismisses those findings as the product of stereotyping.
“Unfortunately, schools often erroneously believe that a transgender student, particularly a transgender girl, will have a competitive advantage over the other players and therefore should not be allowed to compete on the team that matches their gender identity,” the NEA guide states. “Concerns regarding competitive advantage are unfounded and often grounded in sex stereotypes about the differences and abilities of males versus females.”
*NOTE: Following the publicity generated by this article, the OEA took down the “LGBTQ+ Advocacy Toolkit” page on its website. A screenshot of the page has been preserved at the link contained in the article.
Director, Center for Independent Journalism
Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.