LANSING, MI (WLNS) – 6 votes was all it took for the State Board of Education to approve a list of LGBTQ guidelines for all Michigan schools.
While the vote will not force any school to follow the recommendations.
Here’s some of what the board is asking schools to consider.
First off teachers are being asked to make good faith efforts to address students by the name and pronoun the student wants.
The guidelines also suggest that schools let transgender students use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.
As for dress code, the guidelines say students should have the right to express their gender at school as long as it stays within the parameters of the school’s dress code.
This “yes vote” comes after months of controversy, including what the guidelines should be and if they should exist at all.
However, after hours of public debate Wednesday, many people we talked to say, this is just one step in the right direction.
A packed room with passionate opinions and an end result, which will give all students the right to learn, regardless of what their name is, which gender they identity with, and what bathroom they use.
“I’ve had personal experiences with bullying, getting harassed, and even threatened by people,” Corey Maison said.
“It’s important to me because all kids need to be treated equally,” Maison said.
Bullying is a problem, especially in our state. A recent study ranked Michigan as the worst state in the country for bullying and education officials including the President of the State Board of Education said, they want to reverse those numbers.
“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,” John Austin said. “They’re five times more likely have attempted suicide, they’re twice as likely to drop out of school.”
“We do have a problem with bullying here in Michigan and particularly for LGBT students,” Sam Inglot said.
It’s a victory for the LGBTQ community, and those who support it; like Sam Inglot from Progress Michigan.
“These policies don’t do anything to empower people that want to hurt kids, these policies only serve to empower students to be themselves in school,” Inglot said. “Which if there’s anywhere that you should be able to feel comfortable with who you are, it should be in a learning environment.”
Safe space is one of the reasons why some said they’re opposed to this.
“I feel it’s unsafe for our children, our grandchildren, to come to have to be exposed to immorality,” Matthew Shepard said.
Part of the guidelines works to encourage local school districts to encourage their communities in the development of their own policies, which is something the Lansing School District said it’s doing.
In a statement released Wednesday, the district said:
“It is important that every student feel safe and welcome in our schools, in fact that is a key goal of our strategic plan in the Lansing School District. It’s also great that the State Board of Education is working to provide guidance to ensure that all schools in Michigan create an environment where students feel safe and welcome.”
It’s not mandatory for schools to implement these policies however if they voluntarily choose to, they’ll have to follow the list of guidelines approved Wednesday.