(WLNS) – LGBTQ guidelines were approved by the State Board of Education as the topic took center stage for a debate on how to handle the issue of safety for transgender students in schools.
Board members and members of the public spoke out both for and against a proposal to issue guidelines to schools across the state.
After hours of open comment, the board approved the recommendations by a vote of 6 to 2.
Schools can choose to follow them or not, but it is still a dividing issue because not only do the guidelines encourage schools to call students by their preferred pronoun, but also allows students to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with.
15-year-old Corey Maison has struggled in school her whole life. She was born a boy, but identifies as a girl. To her, today’s approval is one step in the right direction.
“I’ve had personal experiences with bullying, getting harassed and even threatened by people,” Maison said.
Maison has publicly supported changes to rules regarding students picking which bathroom to use. While that issue causes a stir, Pediatrician Maureen Connolly says it is something needed to keep transgender students safe.
“I think this is a huge step towards ensuring their health and wellness in the future, in the school environment,” Pediatrician with Henry Ford Health System Connolly said.
Safety is also on the mind of those in opposition, but for a different reason.
“I feel it’s not safe for our children and our grandchildren to come to have to be exposed to immorality and sexual predators,” Opponent of LGBTQ guidelines Matthew Shepard said.
The guidelines go beyond the welfare of transgender kids, they also include suggestions to address issues gay, lesbian and bisexual students face as well.
“It sends a message that we are welcoming and inclusive of all our people and that we’re acknowledging that these kids are too often the victims of abuse,” President of the Michigan Board of Education John Austin said.
To the people who believe this will only cause problems rather than solutions, Austin says, there’s no way to avoid it, this is the direction of the future.