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Hiding Legal Names of Trans Students From School Nurses Dangerous: Parents

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Hiding Legal Names of Trans Students From School Nurses Dangerous: Parents

Staff and students walk through a hallway at a California school in a file photo. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Brad Jones

Brad Jones

11/21/2023

Updated: 11/28/2023

A group of parents in Irvine, California, is raising alarm over emails between local school district staff debating whether to hide the legal names of students who identify as transgender from school nurses.
A parent, who goes by the pseudonym Sarah Park for fear of retaliation against her family, told The Epoch Times that she and other parents are concerned that a decision by Irvine Unified School District staff to conceal the legal names of such students with serious medical conditions or deadly allergies could end in tragedy or death in emergency situations.
If nothing is done, “some child is going to get seriously hurt or killed,” Ms. Park warned.
However, the district has denied that it has put students’ safety at risk.
The parent group, Irvine Unified Exposed, obtained via a public records request an email thread between district employees over a 911 call made for a child with what’s known as a “gender support plan” in December 2022.
The email exchange refers to Aeries, a computer program that allows district staff by way of a toggle switch to either hide or show the legal names of transgender students.
“If nurses are not being given the student’s real name and gender, how are they supposed to give medications or give the child’s medical history to paramedics in an emergency?” Ms. Park asked.
She also questioned whether school board trustees are aware of this potential risk and whether district employees who made the decision to hide such information are qualified to have done so.
“These LGBTQ coordinators are the ones who are making the decisions of who gets to see the child’s legal name and who only gets to see the preferred name. The parent is only seeing a legal name and not the preferred name, and then it’s the opposite for nurses,” Ms. Park said.
The show/hide function puts too much power in the hands of mental health specialists who determine what to tell school nurses and what not to tell them, she said.
Hiding students’ legal names could also pose problems for school nurses administering medications such as penicillin, insulin for diabetics, and EpiPens for children with severe allergies.
Parents are also concerned that secret gender transition policies have not only created record-keeping confusion but also come at a time when academic performance has plummeted in California.
In one case, a student wanted to be referred to by both he/him and they/them pronouns at school but as she/her when school staff addressed her parents, according to Ms. Park.
“This is so ridiculous. What teacher can possibly keep track of all of this?” she asked. “This is just unbelievably stupid—a waste of time and taxpayer dollars.”
Another parent, who also asked to not be named for fear of retaliation, told The Epoch Times that she’s worried about her child, who has a life-threatening health condition, after recently learning that gender support plans can be implemented without parental knowledge.
“I was horrified to hear that the school nurse and other officials are not involved in this secretive plan. As a parent of a child with a life-threatening health condition, it scares me for my child and all students at [Irvine Unified School District] who might not receive timely lifesaving care due to the chaos caused by this secrecy policy,” she said. “Schools should not be hiding things.”
The offices of Irvine Unified School District in Irvine, Calif., on Sept. 8, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The offices of Irvine Unified School District in Irvine, Calif., on Sept. 8, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

911 Call

The email thread indicates that a 911 emergency call was made for a child with a gender support plan on Dec. 8, 2022, and that school nurses and health clerks could only see the child’s “preferred name” in the system.
In the email, employees discussed whether they should allow school nurses, health clerks, and front office staff access to the legal names of students on such plans and eventually decided to not do so.
Maureen Muir, a mental health specialist who provides “LGBTQ+ community support” districtwide; Tim Tatum, director of student services; and Shadlie Kensrue, coordinator of health services, ultimately made the decision to not inform school nurses, according to the emails.
“After a 911 emergency at a site yesterday we found out that the health office and front office staff don’t have access to the show/hide legal name button in Aeries,” Ms. Muir wrote in a Dec. 9, 2022, email. “Can we please add all of these folks to get that permission?”
The same day, Madison Thomsen, the IT director, asked in a follow-up to a previous request whether “[Office Assistants], Health Assistants, and Nurses” should be granted access to the show/hide button of the transgender students’ legal names.
“These staff do not currently have access to this button, and thus are not able to view the legal name and gender for any students with Gender Support Plans that have changed their preferred name and Gender in Aeries,” Ms. Thomsen wrote.
More than a week later, on Jan. 10, Mr. Tatum replied to Ms. Thomsen recommending a group meeting among school staff to discuss “potential privacy issues with disclosing this information to such broad groups without student consent.”
On Jan. 17, Ms. Muir wrote: “Hi Madison. Tim, Shadlie and I had a chance to meet to discuss the potential privacy issues and at this time we [are] not going to move forward with [Office Assistants], Nurses and Health Assistants receiving the show/hide legal [name] button.”
She continued by asking for clarification on who actually had access to the information.
“Our group did want to check back with you to see if you would be able to give us a list of the groups who do have the show/hide legal button as we are not aware of who actually has the button,” Ms. Muir wrote.
In an article published in The Northwood Howler, a local publication, on Oct. 31, 2022, about a month after she was hired as the district’s LGBT liaison, she said there had been an increase in students identifying as transgender or nonbinary during the COVID-19 pandemic.
An LGBT flag at a California school board meeting, in a file photo. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

An LGBT flag at a California school board meeting, in a file photo. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

Ms. Muir, who had previously worked as a mental health specialist and counselor at Portola High School in Irvine, California, told the publication that while hardly anything positive came out of the pandemic, more students had changed their gender identities.
“Before the pandemic, I only had about six kids that identified as trans or nonbinary,” she said. “After the pandemic though, I had over 27 new kids.”
Ms. Muir told The Howler that one of the most important aspects of her job is training school staff on gender support plans.
“But my biggest goal is to establish a trans and nonbinary support group network, or at the very least have a gender and sexuality alliance club at each school,” she said.
More recently, Ms. Muir spoke at a November school board meeting in favor of displaying LGBT pride flags in Irvine classrooms.
But with the celebration of transgender children “coming out,” some parental rights groups and opponents of the “gender-affirming care” model say they’re concerned that some children might be identifying as transgender or nonbinary for the wrong reasons, such as fitting in, teenage rebellion, and attention. They also say they suspect that advocacy of LGBT activists might border on recruitment.
Public records show that at the end of the 2022–23 school year, there were 110 gender support plans in place in the district, with 14 in elementary schools.
The district, citing state and federal privacy laws, refused to provide more specifics to the parents about the plans, claiming that they “contain personally identifiable information, including identification of a small cohort of students, which can lead to identification of students” and that it had been advised by legal counsel that “the interests protected in nondisclosure of this record outweigh the public’s interest in disclosure.”

Only ‘Gender Affirmation’ Allowed

Tiffany Craft, another parent, said the district is pushing “gender affirmation” as the only way to deal with a child’s identity choices, without considering possible co-morbidities, such as autism, for example. A co-morbidity indicates the presence of two or more diseases or medical conditions.
“Parents are largely being kept out of any discussion or conversation about this,” she said. “So, the parent is not told before the student sits down with the counselor and starts having these conversations. The parent, if they’re brought in at all, is always brought in after the fact.”
While parental involvement in gender support plans is recommended for elementary students, the district’s efforts to inform parents of those in middle school and high school must be “student-initiated,” according to Ms. Craft.
The offices of Irvine Unified School District in Irvine, Calif., on Sept. 8, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

The offices of Irvine Unified School District in Irvine, Calif., on Sept. 8, 2022. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)

She said the school district won’t divulge the percentage of social gender transitions to indicate how many are kept hidden from parents.
“They cannot give us a straight answer ... but they do admit that there are occasions when the parent is not brought in at all,” Ms. Craft said.
Amid widespread reports of a mental health crisis among students that has been linked to the COVID-19 pandemic and state-imposed lockdowns, she wonders how students “leading a double life” and harboring secrets from parents can improve their mental health.
“We already have a mental health crisis on our hands. Wouldn’t common sense tell you that a student having to lead a double life like this would only exacerbate that?” Ms. Craft asked. “What is the school [district] doing to help remedy that? For all they’ve invested in mental health awareness, they’re not addressing this piece. That seems like a huge gap.”
Claiming that she has consulted with at least a half-dozen teachers in the district, she said she’s convinced that the “silent majority” of them are uncomfortable with the idea of engaging in conversations with K–12 students about gender identity or having to address the issue in a classroom.
“They’re not on board with all these rules and parameters that have now been established and this heightened awareness surrounding gender identity,” Ms. Craft said. “They want nothing to do with this. They want to teach, they want to help these kids get up to grade-level standard, and they don’t want to be bothered with anything more than that.”
The district administration is pushing gender ideology as part of its “Equity, Excellence, Diversity and Inclusion” plan and “has taken this agenda so far” that they’re now imposing goals upon each school, she said.
Teachers at each school are expected to have individual goals related to improving inclusivity and equity and recognizing diversity, according to Ms. Craft.
According to some teachers, the hiring of mental health specialists is a trendy state-imposed project loaded with gender ideology that’s “shoved down their throats frequently,” she said, referring to Senate Bill 1229, which established the Mental Health Workforce Grant Program.
The bill, enacted in January 2022, increased mental health professionals serving children and youth with 10,000 grants to students enrolled in postgraduate or credential programs at a University of California or California State University or an independent institution of higher education or department of social work.
“But it’s ultimately still up to the individual teacher whether or not they embrace it and go along with it or whether they choose to ignore it,” Ms. Craft said.
The district clearly hasn’t thought through all the complexities of implementing gender support plans, she said.
“As it turns out, they don’t think through them until they’re staring it in the face, and by then, it could be too late,” Ms. Craft said.
A former member of the district’s Continuous Improvement Council, Ms. Craft said this so-called community-based partnership group that advises the school board is more “astroturf” than grassroots because it doesn’t fairly represent parents and families. Rather, it’s mainly made up of district staff and the Parent Teacher Association executive, which she claims is “fully on board” with gender ideology.
“It was all about all the woke stuff, and they suggest they’re doing it because our community is asking for it, which was not what I was seeing. I got a hold of the annual survey results and did not have that same interpretation,” she said.
The council pivoted from anti-bias and inclusivity regarding culture and race to gender ideology shortly after Ms. Muir was hired to provide districtwide LGBT support, Ms. Craft said.
“That’s when I first heard about gender support plans, trusted adults, and preferred pronouns,” she said.
The 2023–24 Continuous Improvement Efforts document on the district’s website states that “through a focus on social justice and anti-bias,” school staff will help students learn the skills necessary “to reduce prejudice and take collective action to improve conditions for underrepresented groups.”
It also says each school in the district is expected to develop an equity, excellence, diversity, and inclusion plan to be reviewed and refined annually “to create a culture that challenges inequity, raises consciousness and improves conditions for our underrepresented groups.”
“The council seems to be the inception point of all these agendas and ideologies,” Ms. Craft said.
Before each school year begins, the school board hears the council’s report packed with politically correct (PC) terminology “indicative of an ideologically driven agenda,” she said.
“It’s really PC, the way they frame it, so the board won’t question it. I’ve protested the goals the past two years,” Ms. Craft said.
The parent group is also concerned about proposed goals suggesting that the district should only hire those “who are fully supportive of this woke agenda of gender fluidity,” she said.
When Ms. Craft pulled her daughter out of public school and enrolled her in a charter school, she was booted from the council, she said.
Front of the Irvine Unified School District administration building in Irvine, Calif., on June 21, 2023. (Julianne Foster/The Epoch Times)

Front of the Irvine Unified School District administration building in Irvine, Calif., on June 21, 2023. (Julianne Foster/The Epoch Times)

Irvine Unified Response

Annie Brown, public information officer for the school district, told The Epoch Times in an email that “nurses have access to see students’ information” and that changes to nicknames or legal names in the Aeries platform don’t prevent staff from seeing medical information.
“This information is not impacted by ... [the] ‘show/hide’ feature,” she wrote. “At no time do names or gender impact medical or other care provided to [a] student.”
The email chain between district employees “is evidence of [Irvine Unified’s] commitment to continually improve how we serve students,” and it’s common after emergencies for staff “to debrief and assess where we can improve,” according to Ms. Brown.
Gender support plans, as referenced in the Jan. 17 email between district administrators, have since been updated to say: “In a medical emergency, legal name & gender are released to Emergency Services,” she said.
However, Ms. Brown didn’t explain how the legal names are released.
Neither Terry Walker, the district superintendent, Ms. Muir, nor any of the five school board trustees responded to inquiries about whether the school board was aware that there was some confusion over the 911 call and why the issue wasn’t addressed by the board.
Neither the board nor staff responded to why there has been such a dramatic increase of students identifying as nonbinary or transgender and whether the increase could be considered a “social contagion,” especially among young girls, as described in journalist Abigail Shrier’s book, “Irreversible Damage.”
The district also didn’t clarify why—if more than 85 percent of children with gender dysphoria grow out of the condition if they’re not socially transitioned, according to several studies—it’s advocating for “gender affirmation” as the only acceptable response, without considering treatment for other possible co-morbidities, such as autism.
The district also didn’t explain the process of what happens when a student identifies as transgender at school and whether school counselors or mental health specialists proactively ask students if they want them to tell their parents or if it’s left up to students to ask the counselor that their parents be informed.
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