Kansas school district claims not using students’ preferred pronouns ‘could lead to death’

by Jacob Fuller

Chris Lieberman, FISM News

A Kansas public school district is pressuring employees to use students’ preferred pronouns, even against parents’ wishes, telling workers that not using preferred pronouns “could lead to death,” according to a report from Parents Defending Education (PDE).

After filing a Freedom of Information Act Request to Wichita Public Schools (WPS), PDE received the district’s gender support plan for students and a number of training resources the school uses to instruct staff on how to interact with transgender students.

In the slideshow titled, “LGBTQ+ Students: Pronouns and More,” one slide cites a number of statistics on suicide for LGBTQ students, such as, “Due to treatment by staff and students, LGBTQ+ students are 2 to 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than other teens.” On the presenter’s notes for that slide, it says, “The lack of using pronouns could lead to death. We are here to support and educate students, not to judge them or push them over the proverbial edge.”

The following slide, which presents the WPS statement on non-discrimination, says in the presenter’s notes, “To not use the preferred pronouns and/or names can equate to discrimination. To allow a parents [sic] wishes to not use the students’ preferred pronouns and/or names is to allow yourself to be deputized to discriminate. This is not acceptable.”

The presentation notes that WPS has more than 340 staff members who are LGBTQ, including at least 100 who identify as transgender, and over 350 transgender students. PDE points out, “The school district’s website states that there are 47,517 students and 5,600 full-time employees. This means that about 0.7 percent of students identify as transgender. Meanwhile, about 1.8 percent of staff identify as transgender. District staff appear to identify as transgender at over twice the rate as students.”

The school’s “Gender Support Plan for Students” further undermines the role of parents in the school district. The form asks of transgender students, “Are the guardian(s) of this student aware and supportive of their child’s gender transition?”, and, “Who will be the student’s ‘go to’ adult at school?”

It goes on to ask for the student’s preferred name and pronouns, where the student will use the restroom and change, and where the student will sleep on overnight school trips.

PDE president Nicole Neily said that school districts like WPS that are implementing these policies are breaking the law.

“To undermine parents’ right to direct the upbringing of their children is not only immoral but also illegal,” Neily said.