Tolland Public Schools adopted a controversial new policy designed to protect LGBTQ+ students at a Board of Education meeting last week.
The policy, which also discourages segregating students by gender, was unanimously approved by the BOE at the September 27, 2023, meeting.
The new policy requires faculty to address transgender students according to their chosen pronouns and gender identity, even if that's different from what's on their birth certificate or school records.
It also states that the student's desire to use a preferred name and/or pronouns overrides parental preferences. Trans students are not required to produce documents that reflect their chosen gender identity, nor do they have to legally change their names. Additionally, trans students are not required to "uniformly" dress as male or female.
The district shall, to the extent permitted by law, notify parents and/or guardians if a student requests a name or pronoun change.
If the district determines a student may be "harmed" by informing parents, staff would be required to notify the state Department of Children and Families.
Another part of the policy directs the Superintendent to provide training for district staff in "transgender sensitivity" and to provide developmentally age-appropriate "training" for students.
School officials believe that refusing to address trans students by their chosen name and profiles could have civil rights implications.
Though that position fails to recognize that the new policy compels speech, something which might also create constitutional issues.
In a recent case, a college professor at Shawnee University who resisted his school’s orders to go along with transgender students’ preferred pronouns won his First Amendment case before a federal appeals court.
It remains to be seen whether any similar challenges may arise from Tolland's new policy.