Editor: Every student is an individual soul, and is therefore endowed with immeasurable worth, and deserving of respect, kindness, and justice.
Understanding that, three different issues are presented in the School Board’s gender identity policy. One, is a demand that students be called by the name of their choosing, upon request of the parent/guardian of the child. Two, a demand that students be identified by pronouns that reflect their believed, or preferred gender; again, upon parental/guardian request. Finally, should a parent/guardian be notified – or required to approve – a child’s request to be called and identified by a name and gender different than the one given and determined at birth.
First, I believe a parent should be able to have the request for a name change honored by school employees. While I cannot address all of them, I believe I understand the variety of arguments posed against this conclusion, yet I would simply argue that the government has no authority to determine what I choose to name my child. Consider a child in foster care whose adoption is pending but not yet finalized. Shouldn’t the parents of that child be able to have a requested name change honored? I fear, if we try to parse this too much, we conclude with a belief that the government, in some instances, has the right to name our children, or provide input into that name – a point on which, I stringently object.
However, I believe asking teachers or students to address individuals with pronouns that disagree with their chromosomal designation is an encroachment on individual liberty and the ability to practice one’s faith. For instance, the belief in an inerrant Creator is a fundamental doctrine for Abrahamic religions, thus identifying males as females would be heretical to many. One might argue that the child has the right to be identified as they wish, regardless of others’ religious convictions and freedom. To this, I would ask, has not the legacy of abolitionists taught us that an individual’s liberty is constrained to the point that it cannot effect the liberty of another? In their case, they argued a business cannot operate by constraining another’s liberty. In this instance, teachers who believe in an inerrant Creator cannot be forced to maximize the freedom of another by restricting their own religious freedom.
Lastly, the school should absolutely notify the parents of a student if said student is desiring to be called by another name or pronoun. Why should the government be the primary counselor for a child walking through a period of uncertainty? The hand that rocks the cradle should always be the parent/guardian of a child, and the government is not merited with an opinion of how parents/guardians should address this topic, so long as the child is not being physically harmed. Should parents be informed when their child is making inopportune jokes during class, but not when they are struggling with something of much greater magnitude?
Thomas Black, Leesburg