Parents of students at Robinson Elementary School in the small town of Raytown, Mo. received a letter informing them that a male-born student, Adam, would be returning to school as a female with the preferred name Jasmine.
Gender identity issues are not altogether uncommon in young children, and the “let’s put this all out in the open” approach is certainly an interesting one.
The letter encourages parents to talk to their children about respect and is intended to curb bullying, though it’s unclear if by outing Jasmine to the entire school, it could backfire and create even more of an issue with her schoolmates.
Some are crying foul, claiming that federal laws may have been broken in sending the letter out on the basis of right to privacy, but reports are unclear whether the school acted alone or in conjunction with Jasmine’s parents.
We’re certainly hoping for the best on this one — perhaps by sparking a dialogue among faculty, students and parents, even notoriously cruel kids this young can learn a valuable lesson in acceptance.
Parents have responded with some degree of surprise, but no open hostility.
“I am surprised it happened at the elementary level, yes I am. But, freedom, freedom,” said Leon Morgan.
“I don’t know what to think, honestly,” said Leah Yzagguire, a parent. “I think it’s kind of sad. I think they’re a little small, but I really don’t know. I just tell my kids to make sure you’re nice to everybody.”
The “they’re too young” line of thinking is an understandable emotional reaction, but experts counter with that other thing. Science.
“Gender identity is separate from sexual orientation,” said Jessica Farmer, a counselor who works with gay and transgender youth. “They are two separate things. So if you ask a young person if they’re male or female, they’ll usually have an answer.”