A teacher in the Anoka-Hennepin School District has alleged that teachers and staff at a local school are participating in hiding a student’s social transition from the child’s parent.
“It was administrator not just supported, it was coerced, pushed,” the teacher, who continued to use the student’s birth name and pronouns, told Alpha News. “It was very apparent that they thought I was doing the wrong thing.”
The story was initially shared on Facebook anonymously by a local parents group and picked up by the popular Libs of TikTok account, which also shared a picture of a survey allegedly passed out to some students that asks them what name and pronouns a teacher should use when interacting with parents.
This is scary. Teacher in @AHSchools reveals the school is actively hiding students’ gender transitions from the parents. The teacher also claims that staff are pressured to go along with a student’s gender confusion 🚨 pic.twitter.com/iKmChBG7p8
— Libs of TikTok (@libsoftiktok) September 13, 2023
The Anoka-Hennepin teacher, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation, explained that this particular student is a female who decided that she is now a male. According to the teacher, the child expressed this desire to staff and expressly told them not to discuss it with her mother.
“The student would say, ‘No don’t tell my mom, she doesn’t like it, she doesn’t agree. She thinks I’m a girl,’” the teacher said. In fact, the teacher alleged that this is a well-known fact around the school, so well known that when in the presence of the child’s mother, staff and administrators use the child’s birth name and pronouns.
“No one used her preferred name or pronouns during student meetings about her because they knew her mom didn’t want that to happen. With the mother there, nobody discussed it and they all used the student’s birth name and pronouns,” the teacher said.
“In any typical situation or any other state, I would have called the mom and asked permission and if this is what they wanted her to be called,” the teacher explained. “As a teacher, if I pushed the situation with her single mom, my fear was that the school and state could take action against her as a single mom to push ahead for the student’s desired position to be a him.”
She argued that the state has put teachers like herself in a “bizarre situation” where she feels that she could make the situation worse for the child’s mother by “pushing the issue.”
The teacher said that as much as she believes the child’s mother should be made aware of it, she doesn’t want the mother’s rights taken away “even further.”
“We have students not old enough to choose their own bedtime, and are allowing them to make decisions that will affect their entire lives,” the teacher said.
She went on to say that it’s common now for teachers to come across names they’ve never seen before while grading papers. “Students will now willy nilly change their name and pronouns and teachers are expected to go along with that. It’s never talked about, how are we supposed to involve the parent?” the teacher said. “The student is in control, that is the message.”
District policies are vague, the teacher claimed, and while she said some of her peers believe they must conform to a child’s chosen gender with or without parental consent, she reads the policy as requiring parental involvement.
The Anoka-Hennepin Parents Alliance told Alpha News that this is a concerning trend. “We have heard this from more than one teacher,” the group said in a statement. “Another Anoka-Hennepin high school teacher told us that ‘deceiving parents is the prevailing sentiment of the building’ in which she worked.”
The group said this story should serve as a wake-up call for parents who are trusting that schools view them as partners in their children’s education. “Schools may think they are helping students by hiding gender transitions but there should never be secrets withheld from parents about their own children,” the statement continued. “We find it remarkable that schools need parent permission for Tylenol but think it’s better to hide the most important thing that could be happening with their child.”
Jim Skelly, the executive director of communications for the Anoka-Hennepin School District, told Alpha News that posts circulating on social media “omit important information” regarding district policies.
“District policy is clear and communicated with transparency on the policy section of the district website, to parents and guardians in the 2023-24 Policy Handbook (Page 20, Policy 102.0G), and with all staff in annual trainings. School guidance indicates that staff should be using the preferred pronoun of a student ‘after conferring with the parents and student.’ This direction is consistent with guidance provided to all Minnesota schools,” Skelly said.
The policy also states, in underlined text, that “students have a right to be addressed by a name and pronoun that corresponds to their gender identity.”
“After conferring with parents and the student, school employees should use the pronoun and name with which the student identifies,” it adds.
A section on data privacy states that “transgender and gender non-conforming students may decide to discuss and express their gender identity openly or may decide when, with whom, and how much to share private information.”
“In some circumstances, transgender students do not want their parents to know about
their transgender status or that they are expressing their affirmed gender at school,” the policy says.
It then lists several factors that schools should consider before sharing information with parents about a student’s transgender status, which, in most situations, “weigh in favor of parent access,” the policy says.
Skelly said staff who are aware of violations of the district’s policy “are required to report them to the appropriate district staff so they can be addressed,” noting that the “privacy of staff members is protected in these situations.”
“It is the first priority of the Anoka-Hennepin School District to maintain a safe learning environment that is welcoming for students, free from harassment, violence or discrimination. Gender, including gender identity, is a protected class under state and federal law,” Skelly added.