Trans students in Philadelphia have been assured that their correct name and pronouns will always be used, as the city’s school board moves to address issues thrown up by coronavirus.
In Philadelphia, trans students already have the right to be addressed according to their wishes.
After a landmark policy was passed in 2016, trans students in the state are also backed in using the bathroom and playing on the sports team that corresponds to their gender identity — whether or not they have their parents approval or have taken steps to medically transition.
But when coronavirus hit and schools closed, there was a hitch: Google Classroom, the preferred virtual classroom used by Philadelphia schools, was outing students as transgender and publishing their deadnames on virtual registers without their permission.
School officials had said technology wasn’t fixable.
Initially school officials blamed technology and said they were unable to fix the problem.
But deadnaming and misgendering are serious issues for trans youth, as non-binary teacher Maddie Luebbert explained at a school board meeting last month.
“This public display can become a serious threat to a student’s physical, emotional, or mental well-being,” said Luebbert.
“I hope I do not need to explain how vulnerable queer youth are — more likely to be homeless, more likely to face abuse, more likely to be dealing with mental illness, more likely to attempt suicide.”
Trans students speak out against deadnaming.
Elias Musselman, a trans student, also spoke out about the pain of being misgendered by Google Classroom.
“My whole class, who knew me as Eli, suddenly heard my birth name, and I would start having an anxiety attack and crying,” Musselman said.
“Some students don’t get support from their families, and to have support from school is such a big thing,” Musselman added.
To be called a name you don’t want to be called really affects you.
After an outcry from students and teachers, the Philadelphia School District has moved to assure transgender students that their correct name and pronouns will be used consistently going forward.
The move was announced via email to school principals this week and is expected to be presented at a virtual meeting of the school board today.
“We’re at a time where so much is out of our control, but this is something that is in our control,” Fix Lopez said.
“To me, it’s not so much about a name, but an identity.”