As expected, the Gender Inclusion Policy passed the St. Paul Minnesota School Board unanimously on March 17th with no opposition from the general public and a noticeable absence of the Child Protection League PAC [CPL PAC] and Minnesota Family Council [MNFC].
The St Paul Public Schools [SPPS ] began their conversation about the gender inclusion in February of 2014 and experience little resistance up until the week before the third and final reading of the then proposed policy. Both the CPL PAC and MNFC both issued action alerts via Facebook calling for their followers to get involved and help stop this policy, however, it’s assumed that both organizations are putting all of their resources behind HF 1546 and HF1547, bills designed to reverse the decision of the MSHSL Transgender Athletic Policy and prevent people who are transgender from using their gender identified bathroom.
The board heard testimony from allies, a DFL Delegate, OutrontMN, The Caucus for Change, youth in transition, and 8-year-old Emma, who came out publicly for the first time as transgender. Loud cheers accompanied the unanimous vote and afterward, I had an opportunity to catch up with some of the people who worked to get this policy passed.
Monica Meyer, Executive Director of OutfrontMN believes that “all student should be valued and affirmed. They should be able to spend their school days learning and dreaming big dreams. The Gender Inclusion Policy passed tonight by the St. Paul Public School Board will help make this a reality for transgender students.”
Jessica Banks, who is running for St. Paul School Board, read a statement on behalf of The Caucus for Change, was both relieved and excited about the outcome, “I’m feeling absolutely fantastic about that this is an area that I think the school district really listened to the teachers and the students and parents who have been telling them for a long time that we need better protections, and that things don’t have to be broken down on a gender binary all the time.”
The Caucus for Change issued a statement during the meeting reiterating that “all members of our community deserve the basic rights guaranteed by this policy” which include proper pronoun usage, the right to participate in sports and after school activities and to be provided with facilities that fit into the students identity.
“The rigid gender binary should not be imposed on students” the statement reads, “Our district’s mission statement declares St. Paul Public Schools should “provide a premier education for all.” Without these basic guarantees of respect for our students, some of the students we serve face barriers in reaching this education.”
Martha, mother of 8 year old Emma who came out publicly at the board meeting was also excited, “I’m honored and really just proud to be part of this school district and proud to contribute to the work that they have done to make schools safer and equitable for everybody.”
“We have had a remarkable level of support from the schools even without a formal policy, Martha continued, “but having the policy in place gives such incredible peace of mind in knowing that we can feel more comfortable…that her [Emma’s] safety and security isn’t relegated to a piecemeal status. That there is a true safety net in place that everyone has to adhere to.”
Siren, an 11th grader in the school district had doubts that the policy would pass, but said it was “Unbelievably relieving” when the vote was taken and the policy passed. “Before transitioning, I had so many doubts about it but now, I know there are people who are looking after me.”
Reaction to the policy passing was swift from the MNFC; in a fundraising email titled “Boys and Girls Sharing Bathrooms: Coming to a School Near You” The MNFC once again tries to instill fear into their money giving base by perpetuating the myth that boys and girls will be showering together.
The Minnesota Family Council believes that the “push for “transgender rights” is the next wave in the agenda of LGBT activists. It is an effort to redefine basic biological reality, and these types of “transgender policies” are becoming more and more prevalent in school districts across the U.S.”
The email concluded with a push for donations and a call to action to help pass HF1546 and HF1547, the anti-transgender bills currently in the Minnesota House. Due to the overall lack of interest from both sides of the aisle, the bills are now expected to be attached to an omnibus spending bill, possibly as early as today, by the 19 co-authors.
Alison Yocom from Transforming Families and mother of a Minneapolis child who is transgender is concerned about her children, but not for the reason these anti-LGBT organizations want her to be, “Our young people are so amazingly strong, resilient and also so much less concerned about things such as where people go to the bathroom and how people identify. It gives me hope for the future that being transgender will be no big deal.”