Students In This District Could Be Suspended For Misgendering Their Peers?

A school district might soon be suspending students who are caught misgendering their peers, in a controversial move.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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Gender identity is a heated, contentious topic this year in public education. For much of this school year, parents and Republican lawmakers have pushed for more restrictions barring transgender individuals from bathrooms and sports that don’t match their birth gender. Likewise, news outlets and viral social media accounts are exposing controversial happenings inside classrooms, where teachers are viewed as allegedly pushing their gender ideologies on young students. But while some claim transgenders are being targeted and put in harm’s way, another growing matter of concern might be damaging to those who don’t follow these new notions, as one school district may be imposing harsh punishment on students who are caught misgendering their peers.

Fox News is reporting that the Fairfax County School Board in Springfield, Virginia might be soon voting on a proposal to enact punishment for students who fail to acknowledge their peers by their preferred pronouns. Calling it “malicious misgendering,” Fox claims that if enacted, students from grades 4th through 6th could be suspended as punishment. This information was obtained from a letter sent to the school board from America First Legal

The right-wing advocacy group warned the Fairfax County school board against approving the misgendering proposal saying it would have “significant constitutional concerns.” Board members were prepared to vote on the measure on May 26th, which would amend the district’s Responsibilities handbook, to call for discipline measures for “malicious deadnaming” and “malicious misgendering” of fellow classmates. However, the vote on the policy was moved up to a June 16th meeting.

The district defines deadnaming as an incident in which someone, intentionally, or not, refers to another transgender student or gender-expansive student by a pronoun other than the one they prefer to go by. It can, in fact, be confusing to some to remember which pronoun someone prefers to go by. And deadnaming itself should not necessarily be punished. However, the proposal does not say that it will penalize anyone for simply misgendering a student. Instead, it says they will take disciplinary measures against those who “maliciously” do so.

More than likely, the intent of this was to stop bullying. Hopefully, the school board is considering enacting it as a way to prevent students from harassing students and intentionally misgendering them. But how these cases can be proven, is a very grey area of concern to many. 

This same issue recently came up in a middle school in Wisconsin. The district is looking to sue three students at Kiel Middle School for misgendering another student. In wake of this, controversy and heated debates have caused unrest within the community, and the school district has closed schools following multiple bomb threats directed at the middle school. 


Transgender students may be at risk more than ever, but enacting strict punishment on students who are caught misgendering their peers is probably not the right solution to the growing issue. Much of the nation is divided, and it is evident that the split is seen greatly inside schools as well. While bullying should always be denounced and punished, proposals like this one could have damaging effects on the future of the state of public education.