What is New Trier Policy on Pronouns?

Are you comfortable with New Trier keeping your child’s confusion with gender identity secret from you? An internal New Trier High School document, titled “Sense of Belonging/Pronouns FAQ,” directs school staff to conceal the identity and preferred pronouns of students from parents.

Use of their pronouns in different spaces- Assure the student that you will use the pronouns and name(s) they requested in class. If students request they be referred to differently with parents or other areas of the school, let them know you will make note of it so they can be referred to differently in conversations with those individuals.” [Emphasis ours.]

New Trier’s approach is not surprising given this guidance from the Illinois State Board of Education (“ISBE”). In it, ISBE directs Illinois schools to prioritize a student’s wishes over their parents’ right to be informed and involved with their child’s physical and mental health. It also provides schools with a roadmap for concealing the student’s identity from their parents. 

Among ISBE's recommendations:

  • “Schools should survey all students on an annual basis to determine how they wish to identify themselves during school-related functions and how they wish to be addressed in communications with their parent(s)/guardian(s), including on all documents sent to their parent(s)/guardian(s).
  • “District staff should never out a child to their family....”
  • And regarding overnight field trips: “Do not send notifications or permission slips to parents and/or students regarding a student’s transgender, nonbinary, or gender nonconforming identity.” 

While New Trier does not explicitly require students to announce pronouns, New Trier’s policy encourages teachers to effectively deceive parents. This policy erodes the bonds of trust between the school and families and is an abrogation of its duty. 

Though sold as “inclusive” and creating a sense of “belonging,” New Trier’s participation in pronoun pronouncements is not ideologically neutral and conveys support for gender ideology, as evolutionary biologist Colin Wright argues.  

Moreover, New Trier’s approach is at odds with the Constitutional rights of parents to oversee and direct “the care, custody, and control of their children,” which is “perhaps the oldest of the fundamental liberty interests.” Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57, 65 (2000).

This approach has spawned numerous lawsuits by parents throughout the U.S. Other states, including Virginia, recognize the necessity of keeping parents fully informed and allowing them to be fully involved in all aspects of their child’s development. Even long-time Democrats are speaking out against cutting parents out of this process: “[c]oncealing information from parents is at odds with the common sense notion that if having supportive adults is important to helping transgender youth, then cutting key adults out of their life is counterproductive...."

The ramifications of a public school policy based on the deception of parents are real. In Hinsdale in 2016, a high school encouraged and facilitated the “social” transition of an autistic child in direct conflict with the parents’ wishes.

Other countries, including Sweden, have recently decided to dial back their approaches to treatment of gender issues; some leading psychologists now question whether the preoccupation with gender identity is relevant except in the most extreme cases. And the “Dutch model” that once embraced controversial medical interventions on teens is now under fire.

No matter your feelings on gender identity, your rights as parents are paramount. Familiarize yourself with these rights (click here and here and here), read up on gender ideology in schools, talk to your children about it, and make clear to the school your child is yours, not theirs. 

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