LANSING, Mich. (WWJ/AP) - The State Board of Education is considering a new set of policies aimed at ensuring students who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or questioning are treated fairly in schools across Michigan.
The Detroit Free Press reports that the policies include guidelines such as allowing a student to use restrooms based on their gender identity, ensuring staff are trained to address issues facing LGBTQ students, supporting the creation of clubs like as gay-straight alliances, and even allowing kids to choose their own names.
A draft of the proposed guidelines states, in part: "The responsibility for determining a student's gender identity rests with the student. Outside confirmation from medical or mental health professionals, or documentation of legal changes, is not needed... School staff should address students by their chosen name and pronouns that correspond to their gender identity, regardless of whether there has been a legal name change."
[Gender identity is defined as "one's innermost concept of self as male or female or both or neither — how individuals perceive themselves and what they call themselves," or, in more simple terms, "one's personal experience of one's own gender." It can be the same or different than the sex assigned at birth].
On the restroom front, the guidance states: "Students should be allowed to use the restroom in accordance with their gender identity," addressing locker room use in a similar fashion.
"A student should not be required to use a locker room that is incongruent with their gender identity," the guidance states. "Locker room usage should be determined on a case-by-case basis, using the guiding principles of safety and honoring the student's gender identity and expression."
Board president John Austin believes schools need to be welcoming of LGBTQ students and to prevent them from being harassed.
But opponents, including Michigan House Speaker Kevin Cotter, are worried the guidelines would upset children's privacy and safety.
The board is expected to decide whether to encourage school districts to adopt the policies in May.
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