Earlier this month, an email resurfaced and sparked a debate over how to approach gender identity at schools, and when parents should be informed about childrens changing identities.

Some parents are now calling for action from the Catalina Foothills School Districts governing board.

In 2021, Orange Grove Middle Schools principal emailed staff a confidential list of students and their preferred names and pronouns in some cases to be kept from parents at the students requests.

Parents and even teachers are split on whether thats the right thing to do.

Some parents started a website urging the governing board to discuss the districts nondiscrimination policy.

They want a revised policy that involves parents in discussions about students gender identities.

Thats also the hope of a teacher who left a Marana District school last year and now works outside the district. She asked to speak off-camera and keep her name private.

She tells KGUN her experience was frustrating, and that she felt like she was lying to parents by keeping gender identity information from them at the request of students.

University of Arizona professor Russell Toomey has been studying LGBTQ young people in school and family settings for the past 20 years.

He and other researchers found trans youth are 2-3 times more likely to think about or attempt suicide, and many fear rejection or even abuse at home.

Toomey says confidential lists of preferred names and pronouns are the best solution for students.

A school environment where theyre allowed to explore and come to really understandwhich is what teenage, adolescent years are all about, he said. Having a safe space to do that at school where, if theyre doing that, its not being disclosed to the family until theyre giving the consent to the school to do so is in line with best practice.

Arizona law states parents have the right to make health decisions for their children and review psychological records from their schools. But its unclear how often gender identity information applies.

Toomey believes the issue can be managed or avoided if parents provide a safe environment at home.

I would like them to consider and think about Why are their children afraid to tell them?, he said. Im not expecting families to change their religious beliefs or their kind of core values around sexuality or gender. But what they can do is change how they interact with their child Respecting names and respecting pronouns even if it may brush up against ones own core values.

CFSD sent the following statement to KGUN Thursday:

The CFSD Governing Board’s policy, unanimously adopted in 2015, states that our district is committed to nondiscrimination on the basis of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, ethnicity, religion, creed, age or disability.This policy guides administrators in their daily decisions that arise in the operation of our schools. Principals operate well within the directive of the Board’s established policy.Any student who is uncomfortable sharing multiple-occupancy facilities (e.g., restrooms, locker rooms) with others has the ability to request an accommodation. School administrators respond to their needs and find alternatives for those students. In this way, we treat all students in the same manner. Further, we do not require any student to be singled out or isolated based on any of the protected statuses identified in our policy.There is no plan to revise the board policy to exclude the language referencing gender identity or expression. Board members have indicated their full support of the current policy and our administrators’ implementation of this policy in our schools.  —-STAY IN TOUCH WITH US ANYTIME, ANYWHEREDownload our free app for Roku, FireTV, AppleTV, Alexa, and mobile devices.Sign up for daily newsletters emailed to youLike us on FacebookFollow us on InstagramFollow us on Twitter