Pronouns In Bio

Poppy Croushore, Staff Member

Although public schools are supposed to be a place welcoming to all students, some are trying to restrict the freedom of their students. Schools around the country are trying to implement new policies that would restrict the rights of transgender students. The debate of whether or not schools should revoke the use of pronouns in schools has created a controversy between some conservative and liberal parties, including one district in Johnson County. 

 On August 16, Kettle Moraine School District in Wisconsin added an extension to their policy regarding banned objects and symbolism to include pride things and pronouns in email bios. This extension gained traction on the internet, however, this is not the first nor the worst example of schools fighting pronouns. Many school boards around the country are proposing similar policies. 

Unfortunately one of the most discriminatory policies comes from a neighboring school district, Gardener Edgarton. On July 26, Jeff Miller, a member of the school board proposed a policy against pronouns at a school board meeting. This policy states that sex is defined as male and female, and students will be referred to by corresponding pronouns, this includes bathroom assignments and athletics. Additionally, any parents who see noncompliance with this rule, for example, a teacher using they/them pronouns, can sue the school. 

The main issue with policies like this is that it’s directly discriminatory towards transgender students. Simply because these kids are trying to be themselves, in a way that doesn’t line up with these members’ personal beliefs. Another member Russ Ellis commented, “Gender identification is a distraction in the schools” and didn’t provide any further evidence. This is due to the fact that he made baseless claims. Not all educators agree with Ellis, though

 “I think schools need to provide a safe and welcoming environment to everyone, because the world is evolving so schools need to evolve with it, instead of being the same copy and paste every year.” Kayla Hannam Health and P.E teacher said. However, according to board member Russ Ellis the problem goes beyond transgender students. 

“It’s a rumor as far as I’m concerned but there is a request for litter boxes for furries? This is more than just male and female gender identification issues. This is about multiple things,” Ellis said. When asked about Ellis’s quote sophomore Rin Smith said “Very concerning, I don’t know what else to say about that. Just what the actual hell” 

Eliis is referring to the rumors going around conservative facebook last December that there were litter boxes in the gender neutral bathrooms around the country. The rumors stem from a later debunked claim from a Midland Public School Board meeting. Currently there is no evidence to support the litter box claim anywhere.  

As these anti-pronoun policies are becoming a trend, it is only logical to question whether or not SMSD will be next. Sophomore Phoebe Scala said “I don’t think they would approve something like that because the school, their not actively supporting trans people but I also feel like they’re not actively hating on trans people.” 

While we hope Shawnee Mission West will not follow down this path, no one truly knows. It is important to view this story as a cautionary tale. Why should parents and board members dictate the volume of gender identity students are allowed to express?

Comic by Matira Myers