A middle school in Michigan has told teachers not to inform a young student’s mother that he now identifies as a transgender and is working on “transitioning” into a female, according to an email that was obtained by Fox News.
The email, which was reportedly written by a school counselor to teachers at Richards Middle School in Fraser, Mich. — where students are typically 11-13 years old — instructed them to only use the boy’s “birth name” and the pronoun “he” when they are communicating with the child’s mother. Throughout the email, the counselor makes reference to the student’s self-chosen female name, as well as female pronouns.
A spokesperson for Fraser Public Schools told the network that “the district is mindful of and compliant with its obligations under Title IX laws.”
However, Fox News noted:
…[I]t is unclear which provision of Title IX– a federal civil rights law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools – the district is following. Whether the protections afforded under Title IX extend to gender identity has been the subject of several federal lawsuits, while U.S. Department of Education guidance on the protections for transgender students has changed from administration to administration.
Under the administration of former President Barack Obama in 2016, the DOE issued guidance that prohibited discrimination on the basis of gender identity and directed schools to treat students in a way consistent with their chosen gender. That guidance was rescinded under the administration of former President Donald Trump less than a year later, who argued that Title IX protections only apply to biological sex and not gender identity.
President Biden once again changed the guidance when he took office in 2021, citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County to extend Title IX protections to gender identity.
That 6-3 ruling said that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act supposedly bars employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and transgender status, though dissenting justices noted that when the act was passed, ‘transgender’ wasn’t a thing and likely would not have gotten enough support to pass Congress if it were.
“An employer who fired an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex,” Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the majority. “Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids.”
There is still debate over Gorsuch’s interpretation, and the Supreme Court has yet to decide if it applies to other federal statutes, notably, Title IX.
“But Title IX does not prohibit schools from disclosing the changing gender identity of a student to the student’s parents or guardian, while the Biden administration’s updated guidance on Title IX also does not recommend against disclosure to parents or guardians,” Fox News pointed out.
The Fraser Public School District does provide teachers and school staff with a resource list designed to help employees better understand gender equity issues. They include a link to a proposed Michigan Department of Education recommendation advising against sharing private information like gender identity with parents.
The guidance, which was proposed under the administration of then-GOP Gov. Rick Snyder, argued that transgender students “have the right to decide when, with whom, and to what extent to share private information.”
“When contacting the parent/guardian of a transgender or GNC student, school staff should use the student’s legal name and the pronoun corresponding to the student’s assigned sex at birth,” the proposed guidance reads.
However, a Michigan Department of Education spokesperson told Fox News the guidance was never adopted, and that the State Board of Education has since advised districts to evaluate such matters on a “case-by-case basis.”
“When students have not come out to their parent(s), a disclosure to parent(s) should be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis,” the approved guidance reads. “School districts should consider the health, safety, and well-being of the student, as well as the responsibility to keep parents informed. Privacy considerations may vary with the age of the students.”