Best Practices

The Minnesota Department of Education has created a toolkit to support transgender and gender-nonconforming students.

The School Safety Technical Assistance Council, the department's advisory council on bullying prevention and intervention efforts, voted last week to approve the dissemination of formal guidance to Minnesota's public and charter schools for creating inclusive environments for transgender and gender-nonconforming students.

The document proposes establishing and amending school policies that prevent barriers to participation. It seeks to prevent and address discrimination through a restructure of standard practices by school leaders and staff.

Transgender and gender-nonconforming students face harassment, bullying and feel unsafe at alarmingly high rates. The resources in this toolkit can help districts create welcoming, safe and supportive environments for all students to learn.

Brenda Casellius, Education Commissioner

The 11-page "toolkit" includes guidelines for the use of proper pronouns and preferred names — suggesting that teachers stop using the term "boys and girls," and instead use "students" and "scholars" — and tackles the hot-button issue of access to restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with a student's gender identity. Authors propose single-user restrooms be available for any students who do not want to share a restroom with transgender and gender-nonconforming students.

As you might imagine, this is not going over well with the Minnesota Family Council, even though it is a "nonbinding guide."

Concerns of gender-conforming students and parents are ignored and dismissed.

--John Helmberger, CEO of MFC

Sadly, this toolkit undermines my authority as a parent.

--Joy Orbis, who wore red and brought her four children to the meeting and had them make anti-transgender signs

The toolkit encourages teachers to teach false conceptions of gender.

--Barb Anderson, longtime opponent of LGBTQ policies

I do not see sensitivities to a 13-year-old Christian girl or a kindergarten boy who cannot possibly have a sexual orientation.

--Rep. Tim Miller, (R-Prinsburg)

Rep. Abigail Whelan (R-Ramsey) made a ridiculous comment about pronoun use:

If someone says they want me to refer to them by a different race, I wouldn't do that.

--Whelan

The author of this diary is confuzzled about what would spur having to refer to someone by race.

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