New Gender Identity Discrimination Curriculum for Schools
October 26, 2009
With the national media focusing on incidents of gender identity discrimination at high schools and colleges, the Human Rights Campaign Foundation released three new lesson plans that will help educators to engage their college, high school, and middle school students in discussing gender identity and how gender identity discrimination affects people in education, employment, and family law. At North Cobb High School in the Atlanta area, Jonathan Escobar, 16, was forced to withdraw after only three days when school administrators told him that his feminine attire violated the school’s dress code. School officials told Escobar that his attire of skinny jeans, flats, and a wig had caused a fight between students at the high school and ordered him to dress more “manly.” Escobar withdrew from the school, telling reporters: “They should have never given me the option of homeschooling or changing who I am.” Also from Atlanta is news from Morehouse College, the prestigious historically black all-male college, which caused a stir less than two weeks ago when it instituted a new "Appropriate Attire Policy." The attire policy prohibits students from "wearing clothing associated with women’s garb (dresses, tops, tunics, purses, pumps, etc.) on the Morehouse campus or at college-sponsored events." Although Morehouse’s gay student group was contacted by school administrators prior to instituting the new dress code, the policy appears to have deliberately targeted Morehouse’s gay student population. Dr. William Bynum, Morehouse’s Vice President for Student Services, was quoted as saying: “We are talking about five students who are living a gay lifestyle that is leading them to dress a way we do not expect in Morehouse men.” And from Jackson, Mississippi comes news that Ceara Sturgis, a 17-year old student in the Copiah County Schools, was not allowed to have her senior photograph placed in the yearbook because she wore a tuxedo. Sturgis’s mother told reporters from the Associated Press: “The tux is who she is. She wears boys' clothes. She's athletic. She's gay. She's not feminine.” Despite there being no restriction in the student handbook and no state policy regarding attire in school yearbook photographs, Principal Ronald Greer refused to include her photograph. Sturgis has sought help through the courts and has asked the American Civil Liberties Union to represent her. In the past, many school administrators would not allow teachers to discuss gender identity issues with their students, out of the belief that discussing these issues would promote their students to live an “alternative” lifestyle. But times are changing, and these incidents show just how important it is that teachers and school administrators begin a dialogue in discussing gender identity issues with their students. The Justice For All gender identity curriculum provides teachers with the opportunity to turn these unfortunate incidents into learning moments where students can learn more about themselves and each other. To date, educators from over 650 colleges, high schools, and middle schools have committed to using the Justice For All curriculum in teaching thousands of students the fundamentals of civil rights and how these issues affect the LGBT community. Educators who are interested in learning more about the gender identity modules or the entire Justice For All curriculum can visit the Justice For All website at www.hrc.org/justice, find us on Facebook, or contact us at [email protected]. This post is from Michael Wilson, HRC staff counsel for special projects.
May 17, 2013
Issues: Youth & Campus
May 21, 2013