Education

DOE Office of Civil Rights extends Title IX protections to transgender students

On my last day of actual teaching (only Finals Week to go before my retirement), I am proud to announce a major breakthrough in the rights of transgender and other gender-variant people on the federal level.

On Tuesday the Department of Educations Office of Civil Rights issued a letter barring all schools which receive Title IX funds from the Federal government from discriminating against gender-nonconforming students, entitled Questions and Answers on Title IX and Sexual Violence.

Title IX’s sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity and OCR accepts such complaints for investigation. Similarly, the actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity of the parties does not change a school’s obligations. Indeed, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth report high rates of sexual harassment and sexual violence. A school should investigate and resolve allegations of sexual violence regarding LGBT students using the same procedures and standards that it uses in all complaints involving sexual violence. The fact that incidents of sexual violence may be accompanied by anti-gay comments or be partly based on a student's actual or perceived sexual orientation does not relieve a school of its obligation under Title IX to investigate and remedy those instances of sexual violence.

If a school's policies related to sexual violence include examples of particular types of conduct that violate the school's prohibition on sexual violence, the school should consider including examples of same-sex conduct. In addition, a school should ensure that staff are capable of providing culturally competent counseling to all complainants.

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Teaching while transgender

Lumberton, TX Independent School District substitute teacher Laura Jane Klug has been suspended for being transgender. The school district says they are "looking into the matter"...and that Klug has not been terminated...yet. Klug is supposed to hear about the resolution of the school board today, after the school board met on Thursday.

Klug substituted for a teacher in a fifth grade class last Thursday, which was the first day she discovered that someone might have "issues".

Parents of some of the students at the school say, of course, that they don't have any problems themselves with the teacher being transgender, but that the teacher may be confusing the 11-year-olds who are in her charge.

Within an hour of them being exposed or dealing with this, there's a few issues here, I think these kids are too young for this issue, so that's our main focus is, if it happens in older grades, high school, ok but too young for this.

--Roger Bread, parent

Other parents say there has not been an issue before with Klug and they don't see why it is an issue now...and that they have no problem explaining to their child what a transgendender person is.

My son knows who he is and I don't think any outside influence is going to change that, I'm more concerned about straight predatory teachers rather than I am someone who lives an alternative private alternate lifestyle, I don't worry about my son.

--Jammie Marcantel, parent

Texas, of course, has no employment protections for transgender people.

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Policing Gender

Sunnie Kahle, 8, prefers to have short hair and dress comfortably (t-shirts, jeans and sneakers). Officials at the school she has attended, Timberlake Christian School near Lynchburg, VA, decided that wasn't appropriate for one of their students. So they wrote to Sunnie's grandparents, who are also her guardians, to inform them that Sunnie would have to dress more femininely if she wanted to attend that school.

Despite what you may see in any headlines, Sunnie is not transgender. She is perfectly satisfied with being a girl.

The school officials, however, expressed their concern about her appearance and cited their policy against condoning sexual immorality, practicing a homosexual lifestyle, or having an alternative gender identity.

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Gender Prison: Transgender student sexually assaulted in California high school boys' room UPDATE: Hoax.

Hercules High School in the northern reaches of San Francisco's Bay Area has been in the news recently for all of the reasons that a school doesn't want to be in the news. Bullying by students, alleged bullying by the principal, a federal investigative report detailing the school's lack of effort in addressing complaints of bullying, and an overwhelming vote of "no confidence" in the principal by the faculty all bleed into the press and/or go viral on the Internet.

And now it has gotten worse.

 

 

 

 

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MITNews: Even when test scores go up, some cognitive abilities don’t

In the "not really news for those who have taught the students subjected to the standardized test system" Department, from MITNews:

Such tests are designed to measure the knowledge and skills that students have acquired in school — what psychologists call “crystallized intelligence.” However, schools whose students have the highest gains on test scores do not produce similar gains in “fluid intelligence” — the ability to analyze abstract problems and think logically — according to a new study from MIT neuroscientists working with education researchers at Harvard University and Brown University.

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Another type of proposal for educational reform

Preface

This diary is not one of those calls for reform that argues that "the schools have failed" and advocates more and harder work for all parties -- that sort of reform was rebutted admirably in a (1996) book titled "The Manufactured Crisis" by David C. Berliner and Bruce J. Biddle. Berliner and Biddle show that the schools do well at what they do and that their main problem is that some of their students are materially disadvantaged, a theme which I will discuss in detail below.

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The World’s Oldest First Grader and the Decline of US Education

The First Grader is a moving film based on the story of Kimani Maruge, an 84-year-old Kikuyu man who attempted to enroll in a primary school to learn to read and write shortly after the government had announced that the education would be free to all.  He went to extraordinary lengths to be admitted, and it’s hardly a spoiler to say that he finally was.

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A point about test scores, human versatility, and climate change

This diary entry is for parents, teachers, students, and anyone involved with America's public school systems. When reading Diane Ravitch's short post of December 3rd in Huffington Post I saw this stunning short paragraph criticizing our national education system's obsession with test scores:

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Gender Prison: Californians voting on transgender student rights seen as "unlikely"

Earlier this month, those opposed to California's new law AB1266 (who call themselves Privacy for All Students), which would provide transgender students with equal access to academic programs, submitted 613,120 petitioner signatures in an attempt to qualify repeal of the bill as a November, 2014 ballot initiative. Initiative rules stipulate that 504,760 of those signatures have to be valid for the initiative to take a place on the ballot.

Simple math shows that calls for 82.3% of the signatures to belong to registered California voters. Not so simple reasoning says unless the number of valid signatures required is actually 95% of the 504,760, which would be 479,522, the bill would fail to qualify for the ballot.

Currently the the signatures are averaging just 75% authenticity, which would only garner 459840 valid signatures, nearly 20000 short of the number necessary. Thus the appeal referendum currently appears unlikely to qualify.

The Executive Director of Equality California, John O'Connor, says that"it's unlikely, [but] not impossible" that the measure will come up for referendum.

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Bullying of Transgender Student in California...but there is no need for AB1266?

I should not be surprised that the Pacific Justice Institute has not spoken out against the attempt to keep a Texas trans teen's photo out of his high school yearbook…or the recent bullying incident in Hercules, CA. That is, except for the fact that I have expected the PJI to speak out in favor of the bullying by the administrator in the former case and the other students in the latter.

The PJI, along with the National Organization for Marriage, is the muscle behind the ballot initiative to halt implementation of California's AB1266, which provides equal access to educational programs to transgender students. The PJI and NOM think equality for transkids would be an awful thing…a sign of the coming of the apocalypse.

Hercules, CA? Most of us have never heard of it, I'm sure. Hercules is an East Bay city, a former company town, established to house the workers who assembled explosives used for much of the 20th Century. Hercules is 22% White, 19% African American. 46% Asian and 15% Hispanic/Latino.

And they have is a transgender girl in the high school. A cellphone video is circulating which appears to to involve mutual combat involving the transgender girl and three other girls. School officials are saying, however, that the fight was a direct result of bullying.

Police and school officials are investigating [the incident] as a possible hate crime.

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