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Clovis schools are now more LGBTQ+ tolerant, union says. Here are the latest changes

Teachers can display Pride flags and students can change their pronouns at school without prior notice from parents, according to a union statement detailing a new agreement between school psychologists and Clovis Unified School District.

This means the district has agreed to change or modify two of its policies that the union and others say negatively impact the LGBTQ+ community, such as displaying personal items in classrooms and requiring permission from the parents if a student wants to change his name. , pronouns and recognized gender identity.

The Association of Clovis Educators (ACE) School Psychologists, the district’s only teaching union, said the inconsistent and unclear way the personal items policy was enforced was “discriminatory, harmful to students and staff and contrary to law.” For example, teachers were asked to remove visible Pride flags from their classrooms.

When it comes to recognizing students’ gender identities, the district historically did not require parental consent until the policy was changed sometime last year, the union said. Last year, members of the psychologists union told The Bee that the district, without public consultation or consultation with staff, began using the Student Site Plan, a form that requires parental consent that students were required to fill out to indicate their name, pronouns or change preferred gender. identity. The Bee published a story about using the form as a possible outing for LGBTQ+ students who might not feel comfortable expressing their gender identity to their parents or at home.

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After the district implemented the two policies — on personal items on display and the new parental consent form for student gender recognition — the psychologists union said it heard from the attorney general’s office, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other entities concerned about Clovis’ policies. However, it wanted to “give the district an opportunity to do the right thing.”

“We believed that a solution negotiated with Clovis stakeholders would be better than one imposed by the state,” ACE wrote in their April public newsletter update.

The union said talks started quickly but stalled, leading them to file a complaint with the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) over the district’s failure to negotiate policy changes in good faith. After speaking with a PERB agent, the parties agreed to pause the case and discuss the issues.

“Sometimes there was frustration over setbacks or disagreements, but ultimately we found common ground and worked towards a climate of respect and professionalism,” the union’s message reads.

After more than six months of talks – and more than a year since the first policy changes – ACE said the parties agreed that the board’s policy could be adjusted so that it would not break the law.

A Pride flag flies along with the American and California flags on the flagpole at Clovis Community College in Clovis following a ceremony with students and staff to recognize June as Pride Month on campus on Thursday, June 1, 2023.

A Pride flag flies along with the American and California flags on the flagpole at Clovis Community College in Clovis following a ceremony with students and staff to recognize June as Pride Month on campus on Thursday, June 1, 2023.

The first policy: personal items displayed in classrooms

Policy changes began when the Clovis Unified School District board introduced a new policy regarding personal items, stating that they could not be displayed if they reflected “politics, religion, social movements and/or personal ethics.”

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District staff were asked to “almost exclusively” remove LGBTQ+ Pride flags from classrooms, the union said.

“Several teachers came forward with stories about how the policy was enforced inconsistently and without clear guidelines,” the union said. “ACE sent a follow-up letter to the Superintendent expressing concerns that this policy was discriminatory, harmful to students and staff, and contrary to the law.”

Now ACE says the district is issuing guidelines on policies regarding controversial issues and personal items, which will provide clarification but will not change the policy itself. This update specifies which items in a classroom can be defined as “classroom items” or “personal items.”

According to the union, the update allows personal items to:

  • include those that reflect one’s personal interests, such as college, athletics, flags and art), one’s culture or religious beliefs.

  • be displayed in the classroom, as long as they do not disrupt the learning environment.

“The district agreed that items of personal interest may include a Pride Flag,” ACE said.

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Pronoun stickers will be distributed to students and staff at the Clovis Community College Academic Center in Clovis following a ceremony to recognize June as Pride Month on campus on Thursday, June 1, 2023.Pronoun stickers will be distributed to students and staff at the Clovis Community College Academic Center in Clovis following a ceremony to recognize June as Pride Month on campus on Thursday, June 1, 2023.

Pronoun stickers will be distributed to students and staff at the Clovis Community College Academic Center in Clovis following a ceremony to recognize June as Pride Month on campus on Thursday, June 1, 2023.

The second policy: Required parental consent to recognize a student’s gender identity

Last fall, Clovis Unified replaced the student Gender Acknowledgment Plan (GAP) with the School Site Plan (SSP), the newer model that requires parental consent if a student asks to be addressed by a different name, pronouns or expressed gender identity. Previously, the GAP did not ask for parental consent to recognize a student’s desired gender expression.

In practice, the SSP would not allow transgender or non-binary students access to programs or facilities consistent with their gender identity if they did not have parental consent to complete their SSP form.

From the union’s perspective, the GAP stated that it was in compliance with state and federal law.

“Students’ privacy rights were recognized, and parental involvement – ​​while ideal and valuable when appropriate – was not a condition for students’ access to programs and facilities consistent with their gender identity,” the union said.

Now, the district’s updated policy will give all students access to programs and facilities consistent with their gender identity, “even if they are afraid to tell their parents,” the union said.

“The plan encourages parental involvement, but if a student indicates concerns about their physical or emotional health if their parents are involved, the plan may move forward with support staff,” the statement said.

“We believe this policy does not go as far as some advocates would like, but we worked to ensure students and families could accept it as a reasonable solution,” the union said. “ACE is proud of this policy and the work we have done to make it a reality.”

The Bee emailed and texted Clovis Unified representatives on Friday morning. This is a developing story and updates will be posted accordingly.

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