Teacher: “Courage is doing what is right for children”

By Quartz Hill resident and local teacher Julie Plaisance.

Public schools teach everybody. Just as we accept every income level, race, and religion, we accept every boy and girl. There is no test which determines if a boy is masculine enough or a girl is feminine enough to be a part of a classroom. All children, regardless of their gender expression, should feel safe and welcome at school.

The School Success and Opportunity Act, Assembly Bill 1266, affirms our duty as educators to ensure the success and well-being of all students, not just some.  School should be a place where all students feel safe.  Forcing students who identify as transgender to use the health office or faculty restrooms stigmatizes them. It is just one of several ways they could be singled out and made to feel different.  Whether a student’s gender matches his or her biological sex (cisgender) or that child expresses a different gender (transgender), each one deserves to fully participate in all school activities, programs, and facilities.

If a PE teacher shouts “You throw like a girl,” or a teacher tells a student who is called names to “man up,” we send a message that there is right way and a wrong way to be a boy or a girl. It passes judgement on a student’s personal identity.

I have become gravely concerned with the uninformed comments on this law from local politicians. They seek to sexualize student behavior in school bathrooms; they speak of viewing others naked and of sexual aggression.  Demonizing and labelling children who deserve equal access to a public education betrays the trust we have placed in them to lead with moral authority.

Antelope Valley schools have had students who are transgender pass through their doors since I moved here in 2003. I have taught at two elementary schools with students who do not identify with their biological sex, and I have seen the pain and hurt they experience on a daily basis. Their very existence on campus, their right to an education, is challenged every time we signal that masculine girls or feminine boys are different, or less than.  These students want to feel safe on campus and to know their teachers support them.

I teach every child who comes in my classroom, and I try to make every single one feel valued and special.  I challenge our community leaders to do the same. Courage is doing what is right for children even in the face of ignorance and opposition.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The AV Times.

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  16 comments for “Teacher: “Courage is doing what is right for children”

  1. Lori
    September 27, 2013 at 6:32 pm

    I asked my daughter how she would feel about her gay friend walking into the restroom when she is using feminine products. This is her GOOD friend. “No, mom, he needs another spot.” You keep saying that ‘they’ need to feel comfortable. What about my daughter’s comfort?!

    • TinaK
      September 27, 2013 at 8:17 pm

      I don’t understand why your daughter would be using feminine hygiene products outside of a closed stall. They have doors on the stalls, right?

    • Trans Ally
      September 27, 2013 at 8:47 pm

      I’m do not understand your comment. What does a gay male hypothetically being in the women’s bathroom have to do with this bill?

    • Ally
      October 1, 2013 at 11:26 pm

      Gender Identity is completely independent of sexual orientation. Your comment is not relevant to this bill. Education is key.

  2. PD
    September 27, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Hmm, so it is society’s responsibility to make these individuals CHOICES is the norm. Passing laws and “forcing” mass population to accept a fringe personal choice is idiotic. If you study mass population psychology you would understand that this method of forcing acceptance into society often leads to more hatred and results in the opposite effect. Everybody is entitled to make their own decisions but it does not mean that society has cater to them.

    Go get your attention grabbing needs met by being productive in society. Go volunteer as DV shelter or a food bank. Stop wasting time worrying about why males cannot pee in a female restroom. Your job is education, you provide the knowledge for my children to be successful. Were students are allowed to pee or not is not of your concern. Just do your job and teach our children your subject expertise.

  3. Maria Paesano
    September 27, 2013 at 3:52 am

    Well now I can say this to you as well. YOU ARE PART OF THE PROBLEM NOT THE SOLUTION to issues regarding sexual issues such as abuse and exploitation. Please read my post ” former student leader …..” PLEASE EVERYONE WHO READ OR POSTED HERE READ MY POST

  4. I've seen it all
    September 26, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    “Their very existence on campus, their right to an education, is challenged every time we signal that masculine girls or feminine boys are different, or less than.”
    They are different! MOTHER NATURE made “Man & Woman”! Each has acted a certain way for millions of years. Mother Nature also makes mistakes. Birth defects, mentally ill, & the criminally insane to name a few. Why do we want to try to make them a “Protected Class”? My daughter also has a right to take a shower without some MALE standing next to her. We aren’t ready for a society yet with CO-ED everything. That’s why we still have “TWO SEXES”!

    The EASY and simple solution is to have SINGLE use bathrooms on every campus. Then a boy playing girl won’t infringe on anyone and won’t be infringed upon. SIMPLE!

    • Mr. Mister
      September 26, 2013 at 3:11 pm

      It’s not about making a “protected class”. It’s about making someone who already feels very different than everyone else, comfortable in their own skin. Having a sense that they are not annexed to special restrooms, discriminatory behavior, or narrow minded comments and treatment. Once upon a time, African Americans were forced to use separate facilities because people feared something that never existed. It seems that the LBGT community are the new African Americans to single out. And to be frank, it’s real sad and disgusting. How many teenage boys do you think will really go through all of this hassle, not to mention social torture from their peers, just to catch a glimpse of some bras and panties?? You really need to look at the scope of it and realize that narrow minded thinking is only spreading fear and hate to those that are less informed. Think about it logically and if any incidents have actually happened since this became law. Take your message of bigotry and hate and take it somewhere where people of tolerance can’t hear it.

      • Letlow
        September 26, 2013 at 3:22 pm

        I was about to craft a comment using the exact same correlation, but it looks like you beat me to it. Perfect response!! Well said. If enough people say it loud enough, hopefully we can drown out the fear and paranoia!

        • Mr. Mister
          September 26, 2013 at 3:46 pm

          Thank you! We need more people in this world who can perceive and understand things for what they ARE and not what they are being presented as.

      • Jodice
        September 26, 2013 at 7:38 pm

        Mr Mister…Well said…

      • PD
        September 27, 2013 at 3:09 pm

        So we made an exception of societal norms and laws for a fringe population group. This is a great thing to teach our children. You can act and do whatever you like and society will adjust to your behaviors all in an effort to make sure you’re comfortable in your own skin. Really? Is this how life works? No, it is not.

        You keep trying to make people feel comfortable with their own choices and I will continue to overcome my own barriers and make myself a stronger person.

        • Mr. Mister
          September 28, 2013 at 11:11 am

          So are you really saying that African Americans are a fringe population? If so, you need not say more, because clearly in your mind we should all be straight White men (which I happen to be), right? People cannot control what ethnicity they are born into and plenty of studies conclude LBGT individuals are a result
          Of a genetic predisposition, not a behavioral choice. So if you want to teach your children about science and biology, then please do so. If you want to teach them your thoughts as being absolute truth, then do so. Just know the latter is wrong. Before you decide to invoke God or the Bible, please understand we have the 1st Ammenment and the Separation of Church and State for that very reason. Maybe you should take notes from the new pope, he seems to understand…

        • William
          September 28, 2013 at 5:13 pm

          @PD You seem to expect society to make and/or keep life comfortable for you in your own skin, don’t you?

    • Trans ally
      September 26, 2013 at 8:45 pm

      Many of the comments here opposed to this law miss the point entirely. A transgender person times dresses, acts and looks like the gender they identify with. It is completely ridiculous to think anyone would go through the emotionally painful process of identifying as transgender just to be a peeping tom? Why would anyone assume that trans=pervert?
      Everyone has the right to a safe education in this country. To force a transgender student to use the incorrect bathroom is a threat to their safety.

    • Pat
      September 27, 2013 at 12:41 am

      awesome idea.

Comments are closed.