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OLD TOWN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Some parents with students at Old Town Elementary received a letter that said there is a second grade student in the school that is transgender. The school district mailed the letter to parents at the start of the new school year. It went to parents who have children in the same learning community as the transgender student, which is made up of about 120 kids from different grades. The letter says the student “may be familiar to your children as a boy, but will now be recognized as a girl.” It goes on to say that the student has identified as a girl for quite some time and will now be using a new name and dressing in a more feminine manner. The student will also be using the girls’ bathroom, according to the letter. It also acknowledges that this is a new situation for many people, including staff members. NEWS CENTER has attached the entire letter to this story. The school was not legally obligated to send the letter, but the RSU34 Superintendent David Walker said it chose to. Legally, under the Maine Human Rights Act, the school is required to treat all students equally. Walker said the child’s family met with the school over the summer to develop a plan. The school drafted the letter, then the family and the superintendent reviewed and approved it. Old Town Elementary wanted parents to hear the information from the school first, and not from their children, according to Walker. There are several organizations in Maine that provide resources for people struggling with gender identity, advocate for transgender equality, and work to educate the community. Here are a few links to learn more:
http://www.wcsh6.com/story/news/local/2014/09/04/school-sends-letter-to-parents-about-transgender-student/15098829/ The letter that the school wrote is here… http://archive.wcsh6.com/assetpool/documents/140904073029_Transgender%20Student.pdf
Access to education alone is not sufficient to fulfill girls’ human right to education.
Girls and women also may face discrimination in the education system.
In most parts of the world, female teachers predominate at the primary level, yet women are generally underrepresented in higher status, decision-making posts in education. especially at universi�ties. Not only do female students need positive role models, but female teachers may also be better able to address the needs of female students.
School programmes can be one of the primary vehicles for reinforcing gender role stereotyping, the expected roles of men and women that society imposes from infancy onward. School books often portray boys as big, brave, active, adventurous and clever people who take action as leaders, explorers and inventors; girls, on the other hand, are small, modest, sensitive, cautious and beautiful, playing traditional reproductive and care-giving roles The stereotypes of boys in some countries encourage boys to study the sciences, while the stereotypes of girls make them fearful of subjects, like math and science, that they perceive as being too difficult for them, thus reinforcing girls’ sense of inadequacy.
However, properly designed school programmes could reverse the sex-role stereotyping and combat discrimination against girls and women. The 1995 Beijing Platform for Action explicitly recognizes the importance of combating gender role stereotyping:
“The creation of an educational and social environ�ment…where educational resources promote non-stereotyped images of women and men would be effective in the elimination of the causes of discrimination against women and inequalities between women and men” (Beijing Platform forAction. ch. 4, B.69). But many teachers are not themselves conscious of the discrimination that women as a group face, and because they do not perceive it they are not able to challenge damaging stereotypes in educational material, career options available to girls, and school environments that may discriminate.
From early childhood girls are socialized to accept the ideology of male supremacy that makes them prey to a range of discriminatory practices. Thus women and girls are not only ill-equipped to identify or confront the injustices to which they are subjected, but lacking any alternative models of behaviour, they actually reinforce and pass on to their children cultural values that are harmful to women. For this reason women need powerful social, cultural and economic support to develop a sense of self-worth and encouragement to transmit this sense of women’s value to the succeeding generation. Exercise ll: Gender role stereotyping Objective: To examine gender mle stereotyping in education and the community Time: 45 minutes Materials: Sample textbooks
I. Role- Play:
Read aloud the following scenario:
You have a small daughter who is just beginning to learn how to read in school. When you are helping her with her school work you notice that her book is about a boy and his sister. One story tells about the boy’s hike in the mountains and his discovery of a secret treasure. The next tells about the girl’s trip to her grandmother’s house in the village where she learns how to cook.
Ask the participants to do the following.
Ask participants to remember some of their elementary school teachers, texts and activities. What ideas about gender roles did they reflect?
In advance, obtain or ask women to bring in sample textbooks used in local schools.
Ask the participants to review them and answer these questions:
Ask these questions about gender stereotyping:
In this short, the terms “gay” and “straight” and the conceptions and cultural stigmas attached to them are completely reversed. What makes this video so powerful is its inclusion of family and community, showing that intolerance can fester in any number of places. Honest performances and a beautiful message, this short film is one not to miss.
Since the passage of PA 11-55 I have been receiving a number of calls for assistance in helping better serve gender non-conforming students. Although I am happy to help I want to refer you also to a local resource that has a great deal of expertise in working with transgender students.
True Colors, Inc.
30 Arbor Street, Suite 201A
Hartford, CT 06106
(860) 232-0050, ext. 302
Robin just came back from out of state where she provided training to an entire school district. Her non-profit agency also runs a highly popular conference. Details as follows.
The 20th annual True Colors conference will be held on Thursday, March 21- Saturday, March 23, 2013 at the University of CT in Storrs. This conference offers country’s largest and most comprehensive lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth/young adult selection of workshops and activities for youth, as well as their teachers and educators.
Up to 15.5 hours of continuing education are available for Educators, Social Workers, MFT’s, Nurses, and other mental health professionals. Thursday, a Professional Best Practices Institute, begins with Dr. Caitlyn Ryan whose keynote will focus on supporting ethnically and religiously diverse families as their children come out.
Throughout the conference, participants can choose among more than 180 workshops that explore LGBT youth and young adult experiences in mental health, education, juvenile justice and within health care settings. In particular, there are a number of workshops specifically focused on the needs of gender non-conforming and transgender children and adolescents. For more information or to register, please see www.ourtruecolors.org or call (860) 232-0050, ext. 301.
True Colors works to create a world where youth, adults and families of all sexual orientations and gender identities are valued and affirmed. We challenge all forms of oppression through education, training, advocacy, youth leadership development, mentoring and direct services to youth and those responsible for their well-being. We can be reached at 888-565-5551, or on the web at www.ourTrueColors.org <http://www.ourtruecolors.org/>
The following post appears courtesy of Roy L. Austin Jr., the Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice
Last week, I attended the Ninth Anniversary of the National Center for Transgender Equality in Washington, D.C., and delivered remarks about the Obama Administration’s commitment to safety and justice for all Americans, including transgender Americans.
LGBT equality has been a top priority of the Obama Administration and Attorney General Eric Holder. As President Barack Obama said in October 2011:
“Every single American – gay, straight, lesbian, bisexual, transgender – every single American deserves to be treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of our society. It’s a pretty simple proposition.”
The Justice Department has a number of tools at our disposal to meet this important goal. In the Civil Rights Division, one way we do this is by ensuring that law enforcement officials treat everyone equally and are not violating the constitutional rights of the people they serve. The vast majority of police departments around the country work tirelessly to protect the civil and constitutional rights of the communities they serve. But when systematic problems emerge in a police department, the Civil Rights Division uses its statutory authority to hold them accountable, and to galvanize and institutionalize meaningful reform.
For example, after an investigation of the New Orleans Police Department, the Division found that, among other things, police officers were discriminating against and disproportionately punishing transgender individuals. To address these concerns, the police department will now be specifically trained on working with transgender individuals as part of an agreement we reached with the city of New Orleans in July. Puerto Rico has similar issues with violence and discrimination against LGBT individuals. We are working with the Puerto Rico Police Department to ensure better investigation of these crimes and to ensure that the police department treats victims and witnesses with respect.
We also investigate, address, and work to prevent hate crimes, including those targeting the LGBT community. The Justice Department enforces the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd, Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, which President Obama signed into law in October 2009. To date, we have brought 16 cases and charged 40 defendants under the Shepard-Byrd Act in 11 different states across the country. Thirty-six of those defendants have been convicted on a hate crime or a serious hate crime related charge, and five of these cases have involved the convictions of persons who physically attacked others due to their actual or perceived sexual orientation.
Another significant accomplishment to come from the Shepard-Byrd Act has been the Department’s outreach. Since the enactment of Shepard-Byrd, the Department has provided hate crimes training to thousands of law enforcement officers and community activists around the country. We have made it clear what people should do when they believe that they have been a victim of or witness to a hate crime. And we have worked with law enforcement on the ways to properly investigate hate crimes. Among other things, this education spreads the message that our transgender community is a vital part of the American community and must be treated with respect.
Finally, we have led efforts to address the bullying and harassment that touches the lives of countless kids, their families, and their communities every school year. As we’ve seen all too clearly – and as many of us know from our own experience – bullying can have a devastating, and potentially lifelong, impact. Nearly one in three middle and high school students report being bullied, and over half of our children report that they witness bullying in school. For gender non-conforming and transgender students, it can be much worse.
The Administration takes this issue very seriously. Last year at the White House, the President and the First Lady held a conference on bullying and harassment in schools. The President has made clear that he doesn’t accept the idea that bullying is just part of growing up; rather, every child has a right to receive an education without fearing for their safety.
The Civil Rights Division is using every tool available to us to respond. We protect the rights of students who are being harassed because of their race, national origin, religion, disability, or sex – including if they are being harassed because they don’t act how their peers think a boy or girl is supposed to act. Through this work we are seeing that two communities face a disproportionate amount of bullying and harassment in schools: Muslim students, and LGBT students. And not only members of these communities—but also those who are perceived to belong to these communities—are at increased risk of being bullied.
Together with our federal partners like the Department of Education, we are exploring ways to hold schools accountable, and to stop harassment and bullying before it starts. This includes efforts in Tehachapi, California, where 13-year-old Seth Walsh, who was openly gay, took his own life after suffering verbal, physical and sexual harassment in school for over two years. Although the settlement we reached with the school district comes too late to help Seth, it hopefully will prevent harassment and bullying from recurring and create a more positive environment for all students in his district, as well as send a message nationwide.
All of these actions and policies are certainly promising steps in the right direction, but we also recognize there is still much work to be done. The Justice Department remains committed to equality under the law and will continue to be central to that effort over the years to come.