I just started work as a new teacher at a school and today they presented their newly written comprehensive "equal treatment plan". Some of the wording seems problematic to me though - especially with regard to "transgender identity or expression" and sexual orientation.
The bad news is some of their wording serves the opposite purpose of what they are trying to achieve since I feel they are either reinforcing hetero normative culture and/or not adequately representing all populations/individuals needing representation/protection.
The good news is they are open to suggestions of new wording and revision before presenting this to the students and making it live as their ethos. So if you have any input please feel free to comment - I am positive I am the only person who is raising this issue and that this is the last chance for any changes to this document this year. I am moderately experienced with such sensitive issues but it's been a few years since I've worked with them in a professional (written) capacity where accuracy and political correctness is of utmost importance.
"The Act defines the grounds of discrimination:
gender: someone is male or female;
ethnicity: national or ethnic origin, skin colour, or other similar circumstance;
religion or other belief: beliefs of world religions as well as Buddhism, atheism, and agnosticism
disability: permanent physical, mental or intellectual limitation;
sexual orientation: homosexual, bisexual or heterosexual orientation;
transgender identity or expression: someone does not identify himself or herself as a woman or a man, or expresses by their manner of dressing or in some other way that they belong to another gender."
gender: someone identifies as male, female, transgender, gender fluid, gender ambiguous or other forms gender identity/expression;
ethnicity: national or ethnic origin, skin colour or other forms of visible or invisible ethnic identity;
religion: all monotheistic, pluriform monotheistic, polytheistic, pantheistic and any other religious belief;
disability: permanent or temporary physical, medical, psychiatric or intellectual limitation;
sexual orientation: homosexual, bisexual, heterosexual, trans* or other forms of sexual identity or expression
transgender identity or expression: I am thinking of doing away with this all together after including it under "gender" since I think singling it out might be offensive to some. Or is it better to keep it and write a definition for it? If the vote is to keep it, what would you folks suggest to write under this heading?
"The school shall promote understanding of other people and the ability to empathize. No one in the school shall be subject to discrimination on grounds of gender, ethnicity, religion or belief, transgender identity or expression, sexual orientation, age or disability, or subject to other abusive treatment."
There are many similar quotes like this one scattered across the document. I am wondering if it is necessary to include "transgender identity or expression" since they have already mentioned gender and defined it under the definitions in the beginning. I am thinking of asking them to take that out, as well as include "and other expressions of identity" which serves to include people who may not be represented in the current list of words. I am also suggesting that the first sentence read "...promote understanding and empathy of other people".
"Recurring discussions about ethics, morality, human dignity, equality between the sexes, relations and the bases of democracy are carried out during Civics classes..."
This is another recurring phrase. Is there something that is not covered here that needs to be addressed? Is there a problem with the phrase "equality between the sexes"? I have been staring at this document non-stop ever since I received it in my hand this morning (I am in Europe and it is now the evening here) and I'm starting to second guess myself.
Students with disabilities should be given the opportunity, as much as it is possible, to function at school in the same way as other students. The students and staff should have an understanding of people with disabilities. Students will work to reflect and gain an understanding of different people's circumstances. For example, during sports classes, students have the chance to play "blindball", where they wear blindfolds and experience what it is like to have a disability such as blindness, and reflect on the importance of positive comments. These discussions will also take place in the form of personal conversations between students and staff. Throughout the building there are elevators and access to these is given when needed."
I plan to suggest the first sentence say "the same as able-bodied students" unless someone directs me to do otherwise. But I am very much unfamiliar with how language should be used in this case in order to ensure representation and safety since this is an area I am very much ignorant of issues relating to disability (and forgive me and correct me if this is the wrong term!!) If there is anyone with experience/knowledge they would like to share here please jump in!