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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