Dozens of Midwestern teachers met online this week and traded tips on helping trans students transition to school without their parents’ knowledge, while criticizing new Republican laws on gender and identity.
Newstimesuk.com had access to an online session hosted by the Midwest and Plains Equity Assistance Center (MAP), which is funded by the Department of Education, where about 30 teachers from Michigan, Iowa, Ohio, Illinois and beyond attended.
In the four-hour workshop, they discussed helping trans students in the face of new laws in Republican-run states on gender, pronouns, names, parental rights, bathroom access and play teams.
Some teachers said they followed the rules, but others discussed being ‘subversive’, how their personal ‘code of ethics’ flouted the law and how a trans student would ‘hide’ their new name and gender from their parents.
Kimberly Martin (left), a Michigan educator, and Jennifer Haglund of Iowa say they go above and beyond to help trans students.
The revelations come amid growing tensions between traditional parents, who worry about new gender concepts in schools, and some progressive teachers, who say they need to protect trans students from their own families.
Kicking off the workshop, Angel Nathan, the MAP expert who hosted the session, said participants will ‘review new laws to address marginal effects and disrupt problematic policies.’
In subsequent discussions and role-play sessions, teachers, administrators, principals and counselors spoke about trans students and their families in ways that would alarm many parents.
Kimberly Martin, DEI coordinator at Royal Oak Schools, which serves 5,000 K-12 students in Michigan, talks about helping trans students keep their gender transitions private.
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‘We’re working with our record-keeping system so that certain screens can’t be seen by parents … if there’s a nickname we’re trying to hide,’ Martin told the online gathering.
Jennifer Haglund, a counselor at Ames Community Schools, which serves 5,000 K-12 Iowa students, complained in March about Republican Gov. Kim Reynolds signing a law that bars biological males from competing on women’s sports teams.
He bragged about his ‘own activism’ and participation in protest marches.
“I know that I have my own set of morals, and that doesn’t always go with the law,” Haglund said.
Shea Martin, an Ohio-based trans educator who writes a ‘socialist, feminist and anti-racist’ blog called Radical Teacher, says she has ‘worked against laws that prohibit or restrict trans advocacy.’
“The stakes are high for trans youth,” Martin said.
‘I think it’s sometimes necessary to act destructively and quietly to make sure trans kids get what they need.’
Newstimesuk.com got access to a private workshop where Midwestern teachers shared tips for helping kids transition without telling their parents.
School board meetings across the Midwest, like North Dakota, have seen tense exchanges over trans student and parent rights.
Martin did not describe any acts of vandalism, but later spoke of teachers addressing ‘sexuality’ with elementary students, who were between the ages of five and 10.
When talking about men, women, playground crushes, love and marriage to young people, teachers should ‘be careful not to treat strong heterosexuality as the norm,’ Martin said.
Finally, Yesenia Jimenez-Captain, director of educational services for the Woodland School District, which serves about 4,600 K-8 students in four schools in Lake County, Illinois, condemned conservative teachers in nearby districts.
Parents and teachers across Illinois have been outraged in recent years by Democrat-led efforts to put tampons and sanitary napkins in boys’ bathrooms, so trans female-to-male students can access them.
Jimenez-Captain told her colleagues about a school board meeting that ‘exploded with violence’ over the tampon controversy.
‘It became a big violent issue because the people involved were also academics … which is sickening.’
At no point in the session did any of the teachers say that parents might know what’s best for their own children, or question whether on-demand is the only way to help a trans-identified student.
Teaching new-wave gender ideologies in schools and affirming secretly trans-identified students has become a hot-button issue in America’s culture wars between liberals and conservatives.
Some traditional parents worry that activist teachers are influencing kids with radical gender ideas, and even encouraging them to transition.
The tension has led to lawsuits and violent school board meetings across the country.
LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign says Republican politicians in red states have introduced more than 500 bills affecting LGBTQ people this year, with dozens already signed into law.
Whether male-to-female trans student athletes can compete against girls has become a divisive issue at schools like California.
Maya Kobab’s graphic memoir Gender Queer (below right) is among the books parents have tried to ban from school libraries.
The Midwest and Plains Equity Assistance Center (MAP) serves 11.2 million students in 7,025 school districts in 13 states.
Parents clash with teachers across the U.S. over whether transgender teens can transition into classrooms without their knowledge — and most cases don’t always get resolved in the principal’s office and often end up in court.
They include laws that require teachers to tell parents about a student’s new name or pronoun, whether trans students can use bathrooms that don’t match their birth gender, or whether trans girls can be banned from participating in girls’ sports.
Conservative parents’ groups have tried to ban books from classrooms and school libraries, including Maia Kobab’s graphic memoir Gender Queer, about the author’s struggles with her own sexual and gender identity.
Schools are under pressure to support trans students in this contentious political environment, where the ‘gender-affirming’ model is increasingly being questioned by the American Academy of Pediatrics and other organizations.
MAP, which hosted the workshop, is part of the Great Lakes Equity Center. Funded by the federal government under Title IV of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it serves 11.2 million students in 7,025 school districts in 13 states.
In November, MAP announced it had secured $8.5 million in funding with the Department of Education, and millions more elsewhere. The department did not immediately respond to Newstimesuk.com’s request for comment.
MAP operates throughout Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Wisconsin. It covers states with pro-trans laws and others with a more cautious approach.
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