Concerned parents, citizens rally against ASD keeping student gender identity secret

Concerned parents and citizens protest against ASD keeping student gender identity a secret from parents
Published: Sep. 19, 2023 at 10:45 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - A rally of over two dozen concerned parents and citizens gathered before an Anchorage School Board meeting on Tuesday.

The contingent is advocating the Anchorage School District board to enforce a new policy regarding the way parents are informed about their children’s gender identity and pronouns, with many worried this information could be hidden from them.

It’s a controversial topic and point of contention as others believe the gender identity of students should be kept from unsupportive parents.

The Alaska Family Council, which held the rally, is arguing the Anchorage School Board must keep parents informed when it comes to their children wanting to change their gender identity.

“Our purpose tonight is to make it very clear to the Anchorage School Board that parents should be informed when there’s any kind of mental health issue or physical health issue or grade issue,” said Jim Minnery, the executive director of the Alaska Family Council. “They need to be engaged. Parents have to be involved.”

Minnery says many parents are feeling deceived and angry from not being informed by the district. Those rallying believe knowing the gender identity of their kids is a fundamental and non-negotiable parental right.

“In some cases, the kids are taking on completely different identities, oftentimes different sexes, identifying as different sexes, and the schools are actively keeping that secret from parents,” Minnery said.

“Consider some type of language that will help protect our parents’ ability to know what’s going on in their kid’s lives,” ASD parent Gregory Balcom said.

“What you’re doing is unconstitutional, you’re violating your oath of office, you’re betraying the trust of parents and you’re causing a great harm to the children in your care,” another testified said.

With it being a controversial topic, several transgender family members and loved ones spoke out against those rallying.

Those identifying as queer or trans shared personal stories, emphasizing the importance of having a supportive family and being able to identify with the sense of their own gender.

“Feeling safe and affirmed at school has led me to feel free, more engaged with my classes and able to focus on things outside of my trans identity,” said a queer and trans ASD student named Charlie.

“If somebody would have outed me, if my school would have found out and told my parents, I would have walked off into the woods and no one would have ever found me,” said a former ASD student.

“Every student in the Anchorage School District deserves to grow and thrive and it’s crucial we actively work to create environments that allow all kids — trans kids included — to feel safe, supported, seen and celebrated,” said Lindsay Manning, an ASD parent of a trans student.

The district wrote in a statement that parents can view their child’s pronoun in the Parent Connect portal if one is designated.

“ASD is committed to diversity and inclusion as well as ensuring equity in access and opportunity in educational programs,” said Corey Allen Young, assistant director of communications for ASD.

Minnery says they know the Anchorage School Board and district is hiding things from them and they will be relentless until they see changes.

The Alaska Family Council maintains its goal and intent behind the rally are to create enough awareness and volume to get the board to put it on a future agenda to discuss.