- Associated Press - Wednesday, October 1, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - At least one parent is protesting steps Lincoln’s public schools have taken to address transgender issues.

Rachel Terry has children at Lincoln Southeast High School and Irving Middle School, and she’s sent emails to other parents asking them to join her at an October school board meeting, the Lincoln Journal Star reported (https://bit.ly/1BzAYb4 ).

“By sidelining academic teacher training and replacing it with social re-engineering, the LPS administration has placed a higher priority on social reformation than on education,” Terry said.

During administrative training days before the school year began, district officials spoke with school leaders to help them better understand issues transgender students face. Handouts were given to teachers on suggestions to make students feel comfortable.

One was titled “12 easy steps on the way to gender inclusiveness,” that among other recommendations, advised avoiding “gendered” expressions, such as “boys and girls.” The handout said teachers could opt for more specific terms, such as “calling all readers,” or “hey, campers.”

Brenda Leggiardo, the district’s coordinator of social workers and counselors, said the district has trained staff on social issues for many years, but this is the first year they’ve specifically discussed transgender issues.

“The agenda we’re promoting is to help all kids succeed,” Leggiardo said. “We have kids who come to us with a whole variety of circumstances, and we need to equitably serve all kids.”

Leggiardo said the handouts also stressed the impact words can have on others.

Irving Principal Susette Taylor said she held a staff session that included speakers from the earlier administrative session, because she thought they were effective. The handouts, she said, weren’t intended as rules staff must follow, but as suggestions to make students feel at ease in school.

Student Services Director Ross Uhing said it’s important for all students to feel welcomed and comfortable at school, particularly for gay, lesbian and transgender students. They are at a higher risk of being bullied, having mental health issues and committing suicide, he said.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com


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