Parents in one Colorado school district claim that instructors conducted illegal surveys by inquiring about students’ preferred pronouns in class without obtaining parental consent.
Denice Crawford, a parent of three children in the district, expressed her confusion about the district’s practice of surveying her son without obtaining her written agreement, as the law requires.
The allegations originate from an email sent to educators Jefferson County, Colorado, this past week.
The letter seemed to lend credence to some of the Jefferson mother’s accusations, such as portions warning instructors to avoid leaving a paper trail when surveying pupils.
JCEA President Brooke Williams, who drafted and defended the letter, demonstrated an understanding that “acquiring [such] information obligatory” is contrary to state and federal law.
The teachers were instructed, “If you conduct a questionnaire, please make it a paper and pencil exercise.”
“Any digital records are more permanent and may be demanded under FERPA,” it said.
The Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act, or FERPA, was enacted in 1974 to safeguard students’ right to privacy in their educational records.
According to the regulations, parents have the legal right to access and examine their children’s educational records, including their chosen pronouns.
Colorado’s local regulations, which see student data as “protected,” prohibit similar operations.
The union published a statement Friday night accusing the district of sending mixed messages about preferred pronouns.
The statement, also written by Williams (who has been the union’s president since 2020), pointed to a section of the leaked letter that said, “Please no preferred pronoun/gender identity questionnaire,” also written by Williams. Never say, “I won’t tell your parents.”
The statement blamed individuals like Crawford for politicizing the matter, but it didn’t explain why instructors were told to use paper and eliminate surveys.
Parents have filed lawsuits in six states claiming that schools violate their 14th Amendment rights to influence their children’s development by not informing them of their children’s pronouns or names.
It has set the ground for a fight over transgender students’ rights in the classroom in multiple states, including New Hampshire’s Supreme Court while setting a precedent in places like Massachusetts, where judges have ruled not to divulge children’s gender identification.
The situation is still clouded by doubt, and several litigations in states like Maine are still active.