FCPS Pride site

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Gender-Specific graduation robes in Montgomery and Fairfax Counties

Should schools end gender-segregation in graduation gowns?

Some schools in Montgomery County did so this spring:
(from a Washington Post article June 7):

"Chloe Martin-Poteet will be wearing a white cap and gown when she graduates this month. Her brother, Julian, will be dressed in royal blue. It’s part of a two-color tradition at James Hubert Blake High School: girls in one hue, boys in another.

That tradition is ending.

As a growing number of the nation’s schools work to embrace transgender students and enact policies to protect their rights, there’s a movement afoot in Maryland’s Montgomery County to make graduation robes gender-neutral, with one color for all. Some students argue that no one should have to wear a garment that doesn’t reflect who they are, nor should there be any separation between the genders as they all cross into adulthood.

“Some people say it’s just a color, but if it is just a color, why can’t they all be the same color so we can be inclusive?” asks Chloe, a leader in her school’s gay-straight alliance, which has pressed for change in letters to principals at the county’s 25 high schools."

Most high schools in Fairfax County assign different-colored robes to male and female graduates, either giving no choice or a hobson's choice to students who may not want to make their gender the most noticeable thing about themselves on graduation day. In other traditions of senior year, such as senior photographs, there are often strict dress codes as to what males and females can wear.

Contacts with the school board indicate that these are local school decisions, and principals often say they are up to the student government or senior class sponsors and officers.

How important is it to get these policies changed, and how do we go about doing it? Do individual students and parents address the individual school's administration or student government? Do GSAs lobby for a change? Do we wait until the regulations on gender identity (promised for late September come out)?

Friday, August 14, 2015

FCPS' approach to transition differs from recent New Jersey veto

FCPS accommodates transitions, in contrast to New Jersey

This week, governor Chris Christie has vetoed a bill allowing residents to obtain a birth certificate change without having undergone surgery:

For the second time in two years, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has vetoed a bill that would have made it easier for transgender residents to obtain an appropriate birth certificate reflecting their identity. The bill Christie vetoed (S1195) would have allowed state agencies to change a birth certificate as long as proof was provided that the individual was undergoing gender transition. Currently, transgender New Jerseyans can only obtain an updated birth certificate if they have undergone gender reassignment surgery, which is not always necessary or safe, and can be cost-prohibitive for low-income people.
“Birth certificates are a basic form of identification that speak to our core identity and common humanity, and it is appalling that Chris Christie has again vetoed a bill that would have made it easier for transgender people to obtain birth certificates that reflect who they are,” said Alison Gill, HRC Senior Legislative Counsel. “This bill would have ensured that transgender people born in New Jersey are able to change their birth certificates to reflect their correct name and gender without unnecessarily expensive and invasive obstacles. Inaccuracies present myriad challenges for transgender people in their daily lives, creating barriers to things as fundamentally important as applying for a job or voting. Chris Christie’s shameful decision puts the well-being of transgender New Jerseyans at risk for no good reason.”
Fairfax County has a different approach to staff who transition:
"(from  the Office of Equity and Employee Relations) FCPS will be treating each employee who is transitioning as an individual matter as no two situations are identical.  The Office of Equity and Employee Relations (EER), will assist employees through an interactive process to determine the most appropriate steps to take.  All concerns will be treated with confidentiality as the best accommodation is made for each individual.  EER can be reached at 571-423-3070."
FCPS is looking for a letter from a medical professional or therapist, that the employee is under treatment. EER suggests that you contact them at the above phone number before contacting your program manager (i.e. principal or supervisor). They will work to ensure that that supervisor treats the employee fairly, while respecting privacy.
Applicants may encounter problems with credentials such as certificates, transcripts and drivers licenses. They should contact EER if they anticipate any such problems.
Since Fairfax is such a large system, it is set up with the 180+ schools divided among 10 specialists. If you encounter problems, don't hesitate to contact FCPS Pride at president@fcpspride.org

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Announcing "FCPS Pride"

"Enfin!" in the words of my friend who teaches French: "Finally!" Fifteen years after the initial proposal, the Fairfax County School Board added "sexual orientation" to its non-discrimination policy, and it added "gender identity" this spring (Current FCPS nondiscrimination policy).
Thus, FCPS Pride has come in to existence, to "network and advocate for allied and LGBT employees, for ourselves, our colleagues, our friends and families, our students and our children."
So FCPS Pride welcomes, of course LGBT employees, but also GSA sponsors and others concerned about students, and parents of LGBT children in the system who are also employees, as well as other staff supportive of LGBT people.
Members may include teachers, administrators, support staff, maintenance staff, substitutes, and central office staff; in other words, all people with a current FCPS employee number.
FCPS Pride envisions a school system in which all students, employees and applicants are respected and treated fairly, regardless of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression.
The purpose of this blog is to address issues of concern to this community. Discussion and disagreement are welcome, but extreme language should be avoided; this is also not a forum for disagreement with the basic rights and respect that LGBT people deserve (i.e. it is not a completely open forum). Specifically, misgendering of respondents will not be allowed.
Guest blogs are welcome, subject to editing for space. Please submit to president@fcpspride.org
See the website at fcpspride.org or look for us on twitter and facebook at "FCPS Pride"