Ohio School District Tells Teachers Not To Share Students Preferred Pronouns Outside Of Classroom

Teachers in Mentor public schools received a districtwide email urging them to keep students' preferred pronouns secret if they wished.

By Kari Apted | Published

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In a move similar to recent changes in Maryland, an Ohio school district told teachers in August that they are not required to inform parents if their child requests to be called by a different name or preferred pronouns. Mentor Public Schools Superintendent Timothy Hamman sent an email to middle and high school teachers, thus applying the policy to students as young as 11 years old. The message specified that the policy applied only if the student made an informal request for a name or pronoun change without making an official change on Google or the Infinite Campus parent portal.

An organization called Parents Defending Education (PDE) obtained a copy of the email and shared its content exclusively with Fox News Digital. In it, Hamman encouraged teachers to keep informal transitioning a private matter between teachers and their pupils. “If a student shares with a teacher what preferred name they would like to be called, and the student does not want it changed in IC or Google, there really is no need to go any further,” he said. “That teacher can just use those preferred pronouns/name with the student and there is no need to share the info with any other staff member or family member unless the student would like additional support with this throughout the year.”

When Fox News Digital asked Mentor Public Schools for a response, they issued a statement defending the policy. They said that the district’s practices “will always focus on the best ways to meet the safety needs of our students and staff. We will continue to work with our board members and legal counsel to determine the guidelines we will follow as the federal regulations and court cases around these topics evolve.”

PDE is a grassroots organization that seeks to restore American children’s access to a non-political education by fighting classroom indoctrination. PDE’s Director of Community Engagement, Mailyn Salabarria told Fox News Digital that the Mentor Public Schools policy violates parental rights by “keeping them in the dark”. She said, “If the goal is to provide a welcoming and supportive environment for the student, why do they have to hide it from the parents? Instead, transparency and proper notification of the legally responsible parties — the parents — should be the No. 1 step in any of these circumstances.”

Legislators across the nation are presenting parental rights bills to help keep the Mentor Public Schools’ type of secrecy from occurring. For example, North Carolina created an extensive bill to ensure parents have the right to know exactly what’s happening inside the classroom. Florida made headlines earlier this year when it passed a parental rights bill that opponents labeled the Don’t Say Gay law. Because Republicans are usually supporters of parental rights legislation, Missouri residents were shocked earlier this year when the Republican-led state senate voted down adding a constitutional amendment restricting how educators teach on politically-charged subjects like race and gender.

With more youth than ever identifying as transgender, Mentor Public Schools aren’t the only ones struggling to keep at-risk students safe while not angering parents. School systems across the nation are seeking ways to handle the challenges LGBTQ acceptance presents. Over the past year, hundreds of bills have been proposed to legally alter school policies on transgender issues. New York City schools have expanded transgender student support across all grade levels. The nation’s largest school district has adopted changes such as teaching kindergartners how to include gender identity and pronoun choices in everyday conversation. NYC schools are adding LGBTQ support groups—even at the elementary level—and are opening transgender students’ access to sports, locker rooms, and bathrooms.

Mentor public schools

Pushback against Mentor Public Schools and other districts embracing these policies has been strong, with opponents feeling that these attempts for inclusion actually trample on the rights of cisgender students. There’s also concern that time spent on teaching LGBTQ inclusion takes time away from core learning subjects. With so many school districts producing students unable to perform at grade level in reading and math, this is a plausible argument for shifting the focus back to the basics of education.