Great Hearts Arizona is a charter school system with twenty campuses covering grades K-12 scattered across the Phoenix metro area. It promises a diverse learning environment focused on a classical, liberal arts education. Great Hearts is committed to, “prepare our students to be more than just proficient test-takers, but rather, to be free citizens: capable of innovation and leadership in any field in which they choose to endeavor. We do this by providing incredible faculty, devoted to rich curricula in an environment centered on what is true, good, and beautiful.”
Great Hearts Arizona has stated that they are committed to developing the minds of all their students.
Transgender students attend Great Hearts schools.
Great Hearts Arizona’s commitment to what is “true, good, and beautiful” must also include a commitment to transgender students.
On June 22, 2016, the Arizona Board of Directors for Great Hearts Academies passed a new policy regarding transgender and gender non-conforming students. This policy covers every school operated by Great Hearts, grades K-12.
The policy begins with a false assumption. It does not recognize the distinction between biological sex and gender.
The policy violates Title IX provisions which guarantee civil liberties and equality for all persons, regardless of race, sex, nationality or gender. The Great Hearts policy is in stark contrast to a letter delivered to them to clarify the matter from the Department of Education in May 2016.
The policy demands that teachers and staff disregard their own policy on “Harassment, Intimidation or Bullying of Students.”
Transgender students deserve the same civil liberties that we all enjoy.
The transgender segment of our American population is often diminutized, made to feel as though there is something “wrong” with them, as though they are broken. Transgender children and adolescents are especially affected.
By perpetuating the message that the student is “wrong” or “bad” for expressing their own identity, children internalize the prejudice society delivers to them. This can erode a child’s sense of self-esteem and self-worth. This can devolve further and lead to a host of challenges such as anxiety, depression, panic disorder, substance abuse, and thoughts of self harm or suicide.
This harmful path can be easily prevented.
A 2015 study published in the medical journal Pediatrics found that transgender or gender non-conforming children who were allowed to socially transition to the gender with which they most identified did not differ from control groups on depression symptoms and only marginally higher rates of anxiety. That is to say, transgender children who were supported in their transition grew up to be normal, healthy children.
The transgender policy passed by Great Hearts Academies fails to support this very necessary social transition.
It is impossible to reconcile the vision and mission for our children promoted by Great Hearts with the transphobic student policy the Board has chosen to adopt.
This web site is designed to raise awareness and to motivate the Great Hearts Arizona Board of Directors to change the policy towards transgender students.