The Importance of Support and Inclusivity
where would we parents be without the undying support of our childrens' teachers?
I tried to record yesterday’s Zoom call with Jamie’s counselor, Mr. Calvin* but it didn’t work. I guess it’s good to know that the iPhone doesn’t record Zoom calls, unless you’re the host. If anyone knows how to recover it from my end, please let me know. I did a quick Google, and nothing. I wish I’d pushed to have an in-person meeting. So easy to record that way. But alas.
In any case, what I recall, is that after our polite hellos, I launched into my spiel. It goes a little something like this:
I wanted to talk about this policy the school has where they change my kid’s name and pronouns behind my back. I read through the regulation regarding trans youth and it states explicitly that you keep this a secret from parents. You know there are multiple states with lawsuits against this policy?
Mr. Calvin shakes his head.
I know it’s important to be supportive, and to be inclusive, but this is something different. If my kid were gay or actually trans, I’d be 100% behind it. I’m as liberal as they come. But what’s happening is that the school, with all its blathering on about the importance of community, is driving a wedge between my kid and me. It’s tearing a hole in our family cohesion. This isn’t a 1950s trope where I’m going to kick my kid out of the house for being gay.
Mr. Calvin responds by asking what I want out of this meeting.
In all honesty I don’t really know. I know you can’t do anything about the policy. I guess I want to know what you think. You know Jamie. I already talked to Mr. Case and Mrs. O’Hannon and they talked about the importance of being supportive and inclusive, which of course I get, but this isn’t that. I know my daughter, and she never showed any signs of gender dysphoria, or homosexuality, and now, partly because of the GSA, plus this affirmation model you all follow, she thinks she’s trans. And every adult in this school, every authority figure is encouraging a delusion.
Mr. Calvin tells me that he sympathizes with my position but that he’s not going to tell a kid that she can’t be who she is. After all, there are statistics out there, that she might very well come to harm if she is not affirmed.
You’re talking about the 41% suicide rate?
That’s been debunked. In fact, it’s more likely, seven to ten years AFTER transition that suicide rates increase.
You know, I grew up here. My parents got divorced and I moved away during middle school. I wanted to go here for high school so bad. When I moved back as an adult I couldn’t wait to send my kids here, and now (here’s where I start to cry) it’s potentially ruining my daughter. And this name? The name she chose, the name that’s under her yearbook picture? The name they’ll announce when she walks across the stage to receive her diploma?
I tell him the story about Jamie’s chosen name. I wrote about that yesterday.
That’s the consequence of keeping it from parents. If I’d been part of that conversation, we could have worked together to at least come up with a different name.
(Okay, I wasn’t actually that eloquent. But I believe I made my point.)
Mr. Calvin offers another smidge of sympathy for my situation, which he admits he can’t know. He’s not a bad guy. He’s simply toeing the party line in order to keep his job. Everyone has bills to pay. I get it. And he hasn’t done any research on his own, that I can tell. Why would he need to? His own kids are still babies. And support and inclusion are so warm and fuzzy and obvious. I mean DUH, you have to support the kids! But the part of me that grew up on movies like Norma Rae, Silkwood and Erin Brockovitch wants so. much. more.
Here’s a highlight:
He says, When a kid walks into my office, I’m going to support them. I believe it’s the most important thing to support them. (I detect a hint of accusation that I am doing the opposite.)
I believe in supporting a kid as well. But you seem to define support as affirmation. Here’s how I define support: for one thing, support means teaching a child that no one outside her can make her happy or validate her identity. You know this, as a counselor. Support means teaching her that she cannot control what others think of her or how they respond to her. And that her happiness and validation have to come from within. For another thing, support means teaching my child that biology is real and she can’t change her sex. It means not supporting a delusion that can lead to irreparable harm.
Mr. Calvin says nothing for a good juicy pause. I feel utterly, delectably vindicated. When he finally speaks he says something like, Well we’re not going to debate biology and gender. That’s beyond my job description.
Yet you and every teacher here are employing a psychological approach to affirm my daughter’s gender identity! That’s beyond all of your job descriptions!
Another mouth-watering pause. In the moments of his muteness I can sense the tide turn. I can feel the check mate. The surrender. And oh, Mr. Calvin realizes with a sigh that he’s been hoodwinked and bamboozled by GLSEN and all the other trans-friendly organizations that have coached the school’s policy. After punching himself in the face a few times he tells me he’s going to quit his job and fight alongside me to get this hideous ideology out of the school! It is a glorious day! The clouds part, the sun shines and the angels sing!
Oh, wait. That doesn’t happen. What really transpires is that we have a few more angry and awkward silences and I ask him for the names of the board members who run the school district policies. Then we end the call and I email the two evil ladies to ask who wrote the policy and who advised it. But I already know. Here’s a screen grab of all the outside resources the school aligns with—
And here is their supportive, inclusive statement, welcoming to all, except those who express skepticism, disagreement or terror:
I have yet to hear back from the two board members. But rest assured, they will hear from me.