Teachers at a Pennsylvania middle school have been instructed to address their students by their preferred names and pronouns. The educators were also warned not to inform students’ parents about any gender identity changes, according to an internal email obtained by the Daily Caller.
Southern Lehigh School District’s intermediate school enrolls students nine to 12 years old. The middle school’s principal sent an internal email on October 7, 2021, telling staff that they are required to use a student’s preferred names and pronouns without informing parents.
The email read, “If a student shares with you that they are either questioning their gender identity or would prefer you to call them a name or pronoun that does not appear to match their biological sex, you should do this.”
The school official advised teachers to bypass parents and ask the children directly how they would prefer to be identified.
“If a student shares with you that they are homosexual, transgender, bisexual, or questioning, they are doing this in confidence, just as much as they would with our guidance staff,” the principal’s email continued. “This is not something you should report to parents, and definitely something you should share with our guidance staff.”
Parents asked the Daily Caller to omit the name of the principal who sent the email. They noted that retaliation against the school official would distract from addressing the issues with the recommended guidance.
The school also permits students to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity. The principal’s email stated that if a teacher denied transgender students access to the “restrooms that align with their gender identity,” it may be a “potential Title IX sex discrimination violation.”
One parent, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Daily Caller that he is concerned that the middle school’s guidance hides “essential information about their child’s mental state” from parents. He called it “deeply disturbing and obviously unacceptable.”
“The idea that a principal is requiring teachers to take direction from students as young as nine years old on how to communicate with parents is patently absurd,” the parent said. “This is a ridiculous abdication of responsibility.”
The parent argued that the policy poses “serious issues of parental rights, transparency, freedom of speech, and freedom of religion … both under federal law and state law.”
The district’s superintendent, Michael Mahon, provided a written statement on behalf of Southern Lehigh School District’s intermediate school and the principal.
“Southern Lehigh School District supports all students in ways that are specific to each unique individual,” Mahon stated. “The district recognizes that it is strongest when we partner with our families. At all times our decisions and actions are driven by a respect for the civil rights of our staff, students, and their families.”