As reported last week
, the Fairbanks North Star Borough School District passed a motion to include “gender identity” as a protected group in all six non-discrimination and anti-harassment policies at their Feb 17 meeting.
“Quite a few people testified,” writes Tim Stallard. “Those testifying against the change … mainly expressed concerns about bathroom usage and why we need to define new groups for protection from discrimination.” He asks us to email the school board
and thank them for their courageous vote.
Now that the policy is in place, Barbara McCarthy wants to encourage the school board to provide good resources and training for teachers, administrators and staff on gender identity. She asked Bent’s readers
, “Do you know of a good teacher/administrator in-service training program on gender identity discrimination and harassment in the schools?” Do we have people in Alaska trained to facilitate these programs?
Since then, we’ve received great program ideas, and offers of help from Alaskans who are trained to lead workshops on LGBT issues in schools or are willing to share their personal experiences with gender identity:
- Fairbanks school counselors Jeff Walters and Lynn Harrison offered to plan the trainings. Jeff co-sponsors the Gay-Straight Alliance at West Valley High School.
- The founders of Transgendered Alaskans Social Group (TASG) offered to share their personal stories at the workshops.
- Laura in Anchorage found a good Transgender workshop posted online by the National Center for Transgender Equality.
- Sara Boesser in Juneau sent the link for the revised GLSEN Lunchbox, a training program for ending anti-LGBT bias in schools, created by the Gay Lesbian and Straight Education Network.
- Jackie Buckley participated in the GLSEN training several years ago in Anchorage and mentioned that the original program does not include the gender identity materials added to the revised version, but we can update our materials.
- Jackie works with Anchorage PFLAG to support parents and the Identity Advocacy Team, which speaks to local schools and organizations. She suggested PFLAG’s Safe Schools program as another good resource.
Jeff also attended the GLSEN training and used the materials for teacher inservices. He will pull together ideas from these suggestions, other established programs, and feedback from students to develop an inservice plan. “The students are interested in issues of gender identity,” he wrote “and have given us GREAT ideas and input from their perspective for other trainings in the past.”
This is what I’ve learned:
- We have access to good resources on LGB *and* T issues in schools.
- We have teachers and counselors who are trained to lead the programs.
- We have Alaskans who will share their personal stories of being LGB *and* T with students and staff.
- We have students, parents and staff who are interested in the issues.
- And we have a school board in Fairbanks that is willing to protect LGB *and* T students from discrimination and harassment.
It’s a good start. So when Anchorage, Juneau and other school districts in Alaska add “gender identity” to their policies, we will know who to contact.
Thanks to everyone who responded. That was – and continues to be – a great team effort.