New enrollment form requesting student pronoun preference raises privacy concerns

Students question who has access to information and how it will be used

Illustration+by+Benjamin+Tran

Illustration by Benjamin Tran

Dominic Navarro

Although the passage of Assembly Bill 1266 was intended to protect students by prohibiting discrimination due to gender identity, some fear the bill will have the unintended consequence of revealing the very information these students have tried so hard to conceal: their pronoun preference. 

AB 1266, originally passed in 2014, states that it is the “policy of the state that elementary and secondary school classes and courses are conducted without regard to the sex of the pupil enrolled in the classes and courses,” protecting transgender students from being discriminated against by their preferred sex.

 Next year the district plans to have students select their preferred pronoun on a new enrollment form to help administrators identify students who may need protection from their peers, but some students have expressed fears that their gender identity could possibly be “outed” if that information falls into the wrong hands. 

“I don’t think that is fair at all,” junior Vincent Champeau said. “It is a breach of privacy and trust between student and teacher.”

  The bill also requires that teachers who have knowledge of a student’s preferred pronoun share that information with administrators. 

“If [teachers] are having a conversation with students about gender and anything that would fall under AB 1266, as a school there are certain triggers, there are certain things that we have to follow so they would let me know,” Principal Hillary Harrell said.  For example, if a teacher learns during a conversation with a student that they wish to be identified by an alternate pronoun that the one assigned at birth, teachers are required to alert administration to ensure the student’s safety and protection.  Even though the goal seems laudable, some students have expressed privacy concerns.

It’s very dangerous for some trans people to be outed outside of people they told,” said sophomore MJ Montez-Virgil, who expressed doubts about the new bill. 

Usually, the details of the student are told to the teacher and the teacher is only meant to give minor references to the principal, such as “he/she/they said they want to be pronounced differently now” and the principal will respond with advice as well as having the teacher open up the possibility of a conversation with the principal. If the student says no, then nothing official happens. If the student does decide to have a conversation with the principal, and does desire to make things official, then that will require a parent/guardian figure.

“Once it involves the student record, typically parents will need to be involved with that” Principal Hillary Harrell said.

Contributors: Amara Del Prato, Jasmine Castillo, Jenessa Serrano