August 10, 2018

Current Policy on Transgender Students at Great Hearts

August 10th, 2018

As concerned Great Hearts community members, we are thrilled to see that two years of work has paid off and that Great Hearts Academies has removed the Biological Sex and Gender Policy from the 2018-2019 Family Handbook.

We are also excited to see the *NEW* handbook guidance stating,

EVERY STUDENT entrusted to our schools is to be educated with exactly the same level of care and respect for his/her dignity.

While we hope that the Great Hearts Board of Directors and executive leadership team is sincere in their willingness to support their LGBTQ students, some concerns remain.

The Formal Process

The new “Privacy Practice and Accommodations Guidance” states,

At the request of the parents or legal guardians, accommodations and/or modifications to standard policies and procedures will be considered through a formal process.

What’s the formal process?

We don’t know.

To date, Great Hearts has not disclosed what their “formal process” is or what it involves.

We are glad a process exists. However, in the past, leadership at Great Hearts has been reluctant to show their support of gay and transgender students, teachers, and staff. As such, we would like to better understand Great Hearts’ formal process to ensure that the safety, dignity, and privacy of every person is considered.

We ask that Great Hearts disclose the “formal process” their transgender students will have to endure in order to be granted appropriate changes to standard school policies (dress code, grooming, etc) so that the student is properly supported.

Nondiscrimination Statement at Great Hearts

It is unfortunate that Great Hearts Academies has refused to amend their nondiscrimination policy. Great Hearts has chosen not include “sexual orientation” and “gender identity and expression” as classes of people protected from discrimination at Great Hearts. Adding these two classes was discussed directly with Great Hearts senior leadership. Their direct answer was, “No.”

The current nondiscrimination policy in the Family Handbook states,

Great Hearts Academies does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, immigration status, sex, disability, or age in its programs and activities…

Nondiscrimination policies that clearly define protected classes of people lay the foundation of what is, and what is not, appropriate in the community.

By enumerating “sexual orientation” and “gender identity and expression,” and codifying that language into policy, Great Hearts would send a strong message about what is, and what is not, tolerated in their schools.

We ask that Great Hearts amend their nondiscrimination policy to ensure that no one may discriminate against any student, teacher, staff member, or parent on the basis of race, color, religion (creed), gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), immigration status, disability, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, or military status, in any of its activities or operations.

Support for GSA’s

Establishing Gay-Straight Alliance student clubs is one of the best ways to ensure that those in the gender or sexual minorities have a safe and affirming place where allies and advocates can gather and support each other.

We ask that, in order to develop a community of support for LGBTQ students and their allies, Great Hearts headmasters survey their schools to find teachers and staff interested in sponsoring a Gay-Straight Alliance organization on their campus.

Support for LGBTQ Teachers, Staff, and Parents

Some Great Hearts students aren’t the only ones who identify as LGBTQ. Some teachers, staff, and parents do as well! Does the school community support them also?

We ask that Great Hearts let it be known publicly that they support every single person at their school, no matter who they are or who they love.