In Vacaville, California, parents prefers their music teachers to remain one gender — or at least give them notice when a gender changes. When a music teacher returned to school as a man after an operation, parents protested and children have been pulled from his class.
The school insists that giving parents prior notice would have violated HIPAA privacy rules.
While the school said that it consulted with counsel, I am not sure why such notice could not be sent to parents. After all, the teacher is reportedly overtly and publicly now a male. If the teacher is now presenting himself as a male and being called mister, this would not seem to be a private fact. Obviously, all of the kids came home and stated the obvious. More importantly, the teacher should have voluntarily agreed to such notification. Obviously, many kids will not understand the change and parents should have been given an opportunity to explain it to them. It served no one to have the matter handled in this way.
Obviously, transgender teachers should be protected in their right to teach in the public school system. However, the parents have a point about the lack of notice and this could have been handled in a way that would have reduced tensions.
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5 thoughts on “Music Teacher’s Sex Change Operation Causes Outcry at Foxboro Elementary”
I come at this issue from two angles, one as a public school leader who believes fervently in Constitutional convention and the unique challenges of policy and practice… and two, as someone who loves Mr. Clark as a long-time friend. (Indeed, he was in my wedding!) I share the confusion as to why prior notice was not possible, but also would place near the top of the list the way in which Mr. Clark wanted the situation handled. From the standpoint of an administrator, I would have to lend very serious credence to the teacher’s opinion on how the matter should be handled while making my decision. I would hope, as a principal, I’d have created an environment in which any professional could approach me about an issue that would have potential parental ramifications.
While the primary issue here is the legal theory, I’m not entirely sure I agree with your assessment, Sally, that gender identity is automatically taboo for a six year old. Indeed, the age appropriate method of expression and explanation at this juncture may well be “Ms. Clark wants to be called Mr. Clark now.” If a child were to ask “can any girl become a boy?” there are a variety of educationally and psychologically sound approaches… but denial is rarely a healthy choice.
Good Point Foxboro. But people get all wound up about their privacy rights in any situation.
Sally, I do not believe privacy is an issue because Mr. Clark waived the right to privacy when he told all students to call him Mr. Clark and that he was no longer a woman.
I think I would want to know in advance to. But don’t medical privacy rights come into play on this one?
It’s truly an awkward situation for children. Some of them may wonder if this man is Mrs.Clark’s husband. Some may notice a resemblence between the two and wonder if they’re siblings.
Depending on the ages of children, sex change operations are not appropriate subjects. You really can’t explain why a woman thinks she needs to be a man to a 6 yr old.
Heck, you can barely explain to many adults!
If this had all happened before she got her teaching job, then no one would have known and it would not have been an issue
I have two students at Foxboro. We have not pulled our kids out of music. You have nailed the issue “most” parents are concerned with at Foxboro, we should have been given notice.
One point that is not being publicized is that on the first day of school the music teacher, Ms. Abbey Clark, now Mr. James Clark, came to school and announced to our kids to call her Mr. Clark. So there is no privacy issue and the school board has a weak defense. This is a parental notice issue, parents had a right to know so we could have been better prepared to discuss at the dinner table after the 1st day of school.
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