By Angie Perone
In response to numerous requests from educators and concerned parents, the State Board of Education and Michigan Department of Education recently proposed comprehensive, evidence-based guidelines for school districts to create safe schools for LGBT students.
Although these proposed guidelines do not create new law, but instead provides flexibility for schools to tailor policies that work for their individual schools, several state lawmakers have urged the State Board to reject them in a resolution (HR 0264). They claim affirming your gender identity or sexual orientation amounts to deception. And to recommend a school policy that allows educators to call students by the name and gender of their choosing would “deceive” parents.
While HR 0264 references LGBT youth, its language—and the anti-LGBT political rhetoric that surrounds it—deeply affects LGBT older adults. And as this public battle about bathrooms continues, it is important we remind everyone to consider our caregivers.
Many LGBT older adults and people with disabilities may need bathroom assistance, which is why it is crucial that caregivers have access. Family bathrooms and gender-neutral bathrooms have provided some neutral spaces, but these spaces are not always available. And to separate gender nonconforming people from their caregivers because of bathroom restrictions would create an unnecessary risk of injury for those who need assistance.
We are deeply concerned that the anti-LGBT rhetoric surrounding the use bathrooms will not only create more dangerous spaces for LGBT persons, but it will also make it nearly impossible for caregivers to provide necessary services.