To Whom it May Concern,
The proposed model policies purport to seek to protect the rights of students; however, this policy goes in stark contrast to those students' rights. As a parent, human being, individual, and licensed therapist, I understand the desire of parents to be involved in important decisions their children make at different developmental stages. Parents should want to be involved. However, there are some children who will be outed to parents who are not able to support those children in a healthy manner. Not only will those parents not support their child's choices, gender identity, or sexual orientation, they will not accept their child's orientation or identity, they will react in an unhealthy and unhelpful manner that alienates their child, harms their relationship with their child, and increases the risk of depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide. Suicide rates are higher among youth whose parents and support system do not accept their identity and orientation. This is a vulnerable population and these youth should not be outed to their parents for their choice of pronouns, they should be supported by the adults in their lives. Perhaps those supportive adults can encourage and support these youth in sharing their feelings with their parents in a healthy and supportive environment.
There are protected categories of information including substance use, sexual activity, sexual health, sexual orientation and gender identity, and in general youth have the right to confidentiality unless there is a danger to themselves or others. Youth have the right to express themselves without fear of retribution. Teachers should not be put in a place of having to choose whether to follow these policies and potentially harm their students or hold the rapport and trust, and best interest of their students at heart and risk legal or professional repercussions just as therapists are only allowed to report to parents about risk of self-harm/suicide, homicide, or to report incidences of abuse.
Further, these policies go beyond bathrooms (although I have never understood why people feel this is such an issue - people go in the bathroom to relieve themselves, not to assault anyone), it goes to the point of outing young people to people who may not be emotionally able to support them. As a parent, I want my children to come to me and talk to me. I want them to feel safe and secure that I will love them unconditionally and will accept them no matter what. However, I also want my kids to feel that they can talk with another trusted adult if they don't feel like they can come to me with something. It is better and healthier for them to express themselves to someone than to hide in fear of expressing their thoughts, feelings, identity, and beliefs.