At least five teachers in one eastern Pennsylvania school district have reportedly claimed that they will not abide by a district recommendation that teachers use birth names and biological pronouns with all students unless their parents have been made aware of their request for a new name and alternative pronouns.
According to a report first issued by the Bucks County Courier Times, two Central Bucks West High School teachers have gone on record denouncing the practice of so-called "deadnaming" supposedly transgender or otherwise gender-nonconforming students and to promise to defy any policy that requires it.
"A lot of us are distraught" about the policy, said CBWHS English teacher Rebecca Cartee-Haring.
"I physically felt sick in that meeting," she continued, according to WHYY, "listening to an administrator basically argue that we were going to protect ourselves by outing children … it’s heart-wrenching. … It’s just cruel."
Cartee-Haring, who has taught at CBWHS for 16 years, also claimed to speak for many other teachers at the school as well.
"There are very few hills that teachers are going to die on," she said. “But in this case, most of the people I talked to said, ‘I’m willing to go in the line of fire, if I have to sit in a meeting with an angry parent, I’m going to do that.'"
One of her colleagues at CBWHS, David Klein, seems to stand in solidarity with Cartee-Haring about the new district recommendation. Klein has taught social studies at the school since 2000, and he indicated that his seniority gives him some protection to violate district policies with which he disagrees. The new gender recommendation is one such policy.
"There’s no way I’m hurting a kid. H*** no. I cannot be complicit in harming children,” Klein stated. "...[T]his is the most at-risk, marginalized group of students. They need our support more than anyone else."
WHYY reported that Klein raised his voice as he spoke. According to WHYY, he became even more emotional as he continued to express concern about the safety of LGBTQ students, whom he worries may not feel supported at home.
"Pardon me," Klein excused himself as he choked up.
WHYY claims to have interviewed another teacher who would not follow the policy, but that teacher preferred to remain anonymous. The Daily Caller also reported that two teachers at nearby Lenape Middle School likewise promised not to abide by the policy, though their names were not disclosed. Those teachers also reportedly stated that other teachers in the school promised defiance as well.
Despite all of the controversy, district superintendent Abram Lucabaugh claimed that the policy is merely a recommendation, not a requirement, and that schools will consider each situation on a "case-by-case basis."
"The district understands the importance and sensitivity of this issue. Every child is unique, every situation is different, and our school counselors — trained professionals — work with students individually, building relationships based on care and compassion," Lucabaugh said. "Should a teacher receive a name change request from a student, teachers bring our school counselors into that conversation. We also understand that parents are stakeholders in these matters, too. We work with students and their parents/guardians on a case-by-case basis in seeking to reach an agreed-upon solution for each student."
Central Bucks School District is located just north of Philadelphia, near the New Jersey border.