education

"Another case of the governor not following the law"

Gov. Paul LePage has ordered the Maine Human Rights Commission and state's the Department of Education to cease issuing rules protecting transgender students.

Schools instead are being given guidelines that lack the force of law.

LePage spokeswoman Adrienne Bennett said LePage has read the court decision and believes it requires the Legislature to take action, and that new rules are not required.

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A Settlement in Palatine

The Illinois School District 211 school board in Palatine, Illinois voted in the wee hours of last evening to approve a settlement about a transgender girl's access to girl's locker room facilities, much to the apparent displeasure of many in the community.

With hundreds gathered in the cafeteria at Hoffman Estates Conant High School last evening, the majority speaking against any settlement, but apparently favoring rather punishment of the child who dares to be different.

Signs were carried by opponents to fairness which read:

 

Settling is losing. 

God does not make mistakes. God made man and then God made woman.

 

As always, I would respond to that, using their own vernacular, with, "And God made transgender people, but your God is too limited to have done anything like that."

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Confused Christian staff members dismissed from Texas Learning Center

There is a six-year-old boy in Katy, TX who is transgender. His parents, who happen to be a gay couple, informed the Children's Lighthouse Learning Center that their child now should be referred to as a boy and disclosed his new name.

The school administrators were okay with that. Indeed, they appear to have been prepared for their first transgender child. A set of guidelines entitled How to Handle Transgender Students was distributed to staff members.

Two "Christian" staff members objected. They were fired.

As you might imagine, this has caused an uproar from certain sources.

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Ms. K. passes

 photo 28KROLIKOWSKI-obit-blog427_zps9f9dsjzv.jpgMarla Krolikowski was better known at her workplace as Mr. K. Mr. K. was a teacher at St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows, Queens for 32 years before a complaint by one lone parent about the teacher's feminine appearance caused administrators to go ballistic.

Mr. K, for as long as we have known him, has always donned several gold hoop earrings, dyed hair, fashionable (but appropriate and professional) clothing, and well-manicured nails. This was never an issue amongst his students or their parents until that one student’s mother complained to the school.

His long track record of spectacular teaching seemed to carry no weight when a lone parent complained about his ‘feminine’ appearance back in 2011.

--Cristina Guarino, former student

Krolikowski was fired from her teaching job for "insubordination" in 2011, but fought back.

Marla Krowlikowski collapsed on September 20 and was taken to Nassau Communities Hospital, where she died. No cause of death has yet been determined. She was 62.

Perhaps it was a broken heart.

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Five advocacy organizations join together to assist transgender students nationally

The National Center for Lesbian Rights, Gender Spectrum, the National Education Association, the Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union have joined forces to produce Schools In Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools for distribution to various school administrations.

The publication's aim is to provide an informative guide to help school officials as well as parents assist and encourage transgender students.

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Federal Judge nixes Title IX legal theory

Gavin Grimm sat quietly in the audience last November as dozens of parents at a school board meeting in Gloucester County, Va., demanded that he be barred from using the boys’ restrooms at school. They discussed the transgender boy’s genitals, expressed concern that he might expose himself and cautioned that being in a men’s room would make the teenager vulnerable to rape. One person called him a “freak.”

When Gavin, 16, got his turn at the podium, he was remarkably composed. “I didn’t ask to be this way,” Gavin said. “All I want to do is be a normal child and use the restroom in peace.”

Today, Judge Robert Doumar of Federal District Court in Virginia was scheduled to consider whether Gloucester school board's banning of Gavin from the men's restroom consitutes unlawful discrimination.

Judge. Doumar said in federal court in Norfolk on Monday that it was "highly unlikely" that he will grant a preliminary injunction that would require Gloucester County Public Schools to allow a 16-year-old transgender student to use the boys' restroom this fall.

The injunction is a part of a lawsuit filed on behalf of Gavin Grimm by the American Civil Liberties Union, which seeks a court order requiring the school board to let Grimm use the boys' restroom, even though he was born female.

Doumar said he will issue a written opinion on the injunction and after that, set a trial date on the lawsuit.

Doumar did dismiss the Title IX discrimination claims in the lawsuit, saying federal law allows schools to have separate restrooms based on sex.

The DOJ had filed a statement of interest on behalf of Gavin earlier this month.

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Guidelines issued to New York schools

Last month I wrote a couple of diaries about New York's struggles with its own Dignity for All Students Act:

Indignity in New York, one of my least successful diaries ever, concerned an NYCLU on the status of transgender students in the state

Outraged focused on Gov. Andrew Cuomo's Angry Letter to Acting Education Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin demanding action to ameliorate the situation.

Funny thing about that letter: As well-publicized as it was, Education Department spokesman Dennis Tompkins says that Berlin never received it.

Be that as it may, this past Tuesday the New York Board of Regents issued guidelines to schools about how to treat transgender students. The Regents called for schools to respect the self-identity of youngster whenever the subject of gender arises.

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Legal News out of Oklahoma

Back in April I wrote about the denial of tenure for Dr. Rachel Tudor at Southeastern Oklahoma State University because Dr. Tudor's "transgender lifestyle" offended the religious beliefs of the school's vice president for academic affairs Douglas McMillan.

The Department of Justice sued both Southeastern Oklahoma State University and the Regional University System of Oklahoma for violating Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The suit alleged that the University terminated the employment of Dr. Rachel Tudor, an assistant professor, based on her gender, gender identity and gender expression, as well as in retaliation for making complaints of discrimination.

Dr. Tudor intervened in that law suit by bringing her own complaint in early May, additionally claiming that she had been subjected to a hostile work environment.

Southeastern and the RUSO asked the court to dismiss Dr. Tudor's suit, arguing that transgender people are not entitled to protection from sex discrimination because we are not a protected class under the law.

Last Friday Judge Robin Cauthron of the US District Court in the Western District of Oklahoma denied the motion to dismiss.

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Outraged

Andrew Cuomo is outraged! Outraged, I say! He's so outraged, he wrote an Angry Letter on Friday.

In one of my least successful diary efforts, Indignity in New York from this past week I recounted how the NYCLU had released a report charging that the state of New York was a failure at protecting transgender and gender non-conformiing students as charged under the Dignity for All Students Act of 2010.

This lack of action appears to have resulted in harassment and violence being perpetrated against transgender and gender-nonconforming students.

--Cuomo

According to the report, 19% of the 24,478 incidents of harassment reported in New York schools during the 2012-13 school year involved gender stereotypes.

Cuomo called the report “truly disturbing” and demanded that Acting Education Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin “take any and all necessary action” to address its findings.

Now that's scathing!

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Indignity in New York

In 2010 New York passed the Dignity for All Students Act.

The Dignity Act prohibits acts of harassment and bullying, including cyberbullying, and/or discrimination, by employees or students on school property or at a school function, including but not limited to such conduct those based on a student’s actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender (defined to include gender identity or expression), or sex.

The Act was to go into affect in July 1, 2013.

In a new report Dignity for All? Discrimination Against Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students in New York State the NYCLU is charging that he state has failed to protect students from discrimination and bullying on the basis of gender identity or expression or sexual orientation. You can download the report here.

Children’s rights remain largely misunderstood by educators and administrators.

--NYCLU

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