„Don’t say gay!”. That’s the name of a law that took effect on July 01, 2022 in Florida. The ‘don’t say gay’ law actively bans communication about sexualities that differ from heterosexuality, as well as instruction about different gender identities in the first three grades of school. No rainbow flags, not a word or a picture about same-sex spouses, and no safe-space stickers on classroom doors. Otherwise, there will be significant consequences for teachers who teach elementary school children in the ”Sunshine State“. Education about love and identity, which should have been normal long ago, is denied to children. And that is fatal. Children are still unprejudiced and the generation of a future in which everyone should experience acceptance, respect and support for who they really are.
Things are completely different in the US state of Maine and specifically at the Oxford Hills School, which has also considered a new law. And this law protects queer people instead of terrorizing them.
WHAT IS IT?
The Oxford Hills School Board passed a new set of policies in October 2022 that helps students who develop gender dysphoria to learn about themselves in privacy. Now what do the regulations say? They basically say, ”don’t tell their parents!“. In other words, the new policy requires teachers and school officials to withhold information from parents that might indicate that their child is developing gender dysphoria or a non-dysphoria-related desire to change his or her primary or secondary sex characteristics. (Robinson, 2022)
As part of the proposed rules, school officials will also be required to coach students on how to keep details of gender identity changes secret from parents by avoiding official paperwork that may trigger record changes. The board sees this as necessary because parents can look into their children’s records at any time according to federal law. The new policies apply to all students, regardless of their grade level.
THIS IS NOT COOL!
At least, that’s what more than 700 parents of children attending the Oxford Hills School in Paris, Maine thought. They have all signed a petition to dismiss the two school board members Julia Lester and Sarah Otterson who have decisively promoted these new regulations. And they were successful. A vote to recall Lester and Otterson was not blocked by the Oxford Hills School Board. Paris town officials are now considering whether to allow their dismissal. The adoption of the new gender identity policies has been postponed by the school board until further notice.
YES, IT IS COOL!
The fact that there is so much backlash against the new gender ordinances indicates that change which has an actual social impact might happen. And people are afraid of change. While hiding a child’s state of mind from their own parents is indeed very controversial, it’s also cool, and here’s why:
- The policy makes the school a place for queer people to express themselves and explore their gender identity at their own pace.
- The school contributes to the safety of people with gender dysphoria by fostering a secure and comfortable learning environment free of harassment.
- It is up to the students whether information about their gender identity may be shared with their parents. That empowers their self-determination when it comes to personal development.
WHY DOES IT HAVE FUTURE GROWTH POTENTIAL?
Today, for not little LGBTQ+ students, school is pure horror. They associate the place where they should be able to develop freely with discrimination, hate, and bullying. However, such reforms, which promote the personal development of LGBTQ+ people in schools to this extend, have the chance to make schools a safe space for queer adolescents in the long run.
And this would be hugely important, as their own ”home“ is not safe for many LGBTQ+ members. If schools could provide a “home“ for queer people, it would have a tremendous social impact, as over 22% of all American high school students identify as non-heterosexual. (Ceron, 2022)
Whether the Oxford Hills School in Maine ultimately implements the regulations remains to be seen. In any case, it would be a big step towards safety for queer people. What do you think of the policy proposals? Let us know in the comments section.