National PTA calls for federal designation of LGBTQs as ‘protected class’

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( – A resolution passed by The National PTA at its 2016 Annual Convention & Expo in Orlando last weekend calls for “explicit federal statutory protections” for gay and transgender individuals in addition to those that “currently address discrimination on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, [and] disability.”

The National PTA supports “legislation that specifically recognizes LGBTQ as a protected group and addresses discrimination based upon sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression,” according to the resolution, which is entitled Recognition of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer/Questioning (LGBTQ) Individuals as a Protected Class.

A “protected class” is a group of people with common characteristics who are legally protected from discrimination under federal and state laws.

The resolution, which originated in Burbank, California, directs PTA leaders to “encourage states and school districts to incorporate inclusive policies and practices that create and maintain safe learning environments for all students.”

It also calls for the creation of “updated health education standards that deal with the issues of sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.”

Such standards should incorporate “age-appropriate, medically accurate and culturally sensitive information on LGBTQ issues into existing health and other appropriate curricula,” the resolution states.

The non-profit group, which calls itself “the nation’s oldest and largest child advocacy association,” is encouraging “state, councils and local units nationwide to review district and school policies that address bullying and support revisions and amendments to these policies that specifically discuss sexual orientation and gender identification/expression as they relate to harassment and discrimination.”

“National PTA delegates have taken a stand to push for policies and protections for LGBTQ youth to make sure they have positive school experiences,” saidNational PTA president Laura Bay.

According to the group’s website, “all resolutions were brought forward to National PTA for consideration in the fall of 2015,” and were then “reviewed and passed by National PTA’s Resolutions Committee and the National PTA Board of Directors.”

However, a May 17 Rasmussen poll found that a majority parents with school-aged children are opposed to allowing transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that do not conform to their biological sex, and just 24 percent said the federal government should be setting bathroom policies for elementary and secondary schools.

“Did parents, teachers and other PTA members get to discuss and debate the resolution before it was submitted?” asked spokeswoman Heidi May Wilson.

“A collaborative group of volunteer PTA leaders developed the LGBTQ resolution,” Wilson replied in an email.

“The group consisted of National PTA’s vice president of advocacy; representatives from California State PTA, Florida PTA, Indiana PTA and Massachusetts PTA; and a representative from each of the following National PTA committees: Diversity, Inclusion and Outreach; Health and Safety; and Legislation.

“The resolution was shaped by PTA volunteers and elected leadership representing 26 states across the country.

“Once it was developed and submitted by the collaborative group, the resolution was reviewed and approved by National PTA’s Resolutions Committee, which is also comprised of volunteer PTA members.

“Then, the resolution was submitted to National PTA’s Board of Directors for their consideration. Following approval by the Board, the resolution was then discussed, debated, voted on and adopted by PTA members at the 2016 Annual National PTA Convention & Expo in Orlando,” Wilson said.

On May 13, the civil rights offices of the U.S. Dept. of Education and the Justice Department released a “Dear Colleague” letter to school administrators around the country offering them “significant guidance” on complying with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 that “prohibit sex discrimination in education programs and activities operated by recipients of Federal financial assistance.”

The letter stated that “a school must not treat a transgender student differently from the way it treats other students of the same gender identity” and that “there is no medical diagnosis or treatment requirement that students must meet as a prerequisite to being treated consistent with their gender identity.”

— Written by Barbara Hollingsworth