On Wednesday Mr. Trump rescinded federal protection for transgender students. The implications of that decision are huge, so much so that New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia issued a reminder to all teachers and school personnel that New York State protects transgender students. “The Trump Administration’s decision to rescind this guidance sends a dangerous and divisive message and threatens some of our most vulnerable young people,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “But in New York State, the law remains the law — and school districts have independent duties to protect transgender students from discrimination and harassment when they go to school.”
I’m going to take this a step further and contend that all school districts, school administrators, teachers — anyone who works with our youth — have an obligation to provide them with a safe environment. That obligation is not contingent upon his/her gender identification, sexual orientation, race, religion, or socio-economic status. We don’t have to personally like or even agree with how our students choose to live their lives and present themselves to the world. We must protect them. That’s called professionalism.
Teachers like me love our students as our own biological children (if you have biological children). It is not in anyone’s best interest to enforce political views in the classroom if they go against the collective mission of schools across America of having our students feel loved and accepted within the walls of each classroom. The golden rule of “do unto others as you’d have them do unto you” comes heavily into play. Stop being clouded by what you see on the outside. Everyone wants to feel accepted Everyone wants to feel safe. Our students are no exception.
Many teachers voted for Donald Trump. Many teachers are cheering, silently or out loud, for the decisions that he’s made as President of the United States with regard to immigration policy, women’s rights, homeland security, and education policy. I, for one, am flabbergasted by his decisions: Every. Single. One. Of. Them. We have a Secretary of Education who has no experience in education; we have legally documented immigrants being denied entry into the “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave”; now we have transgender students being told by Mr. Trump that the federal government is completely hands-off when it comes to their protection. To label his course of action a slippery slope is an understatement. Where does it end? Where do we draw the line? Do we have to wait for our personal safety to be threatened before we speak up?
Teachers are mandated reporters of anyone whom we suspect is causing harm to a child. Who is going to report President Trump?