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MDE Offers Professional Development To Help Teachers Help Students and Parents

LANSING – For over two decades, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) has provided local school district-requested professional development to build the capacity of educators to provide safe, supportive, and inclusive school climates where all students can thrive—especially students who identify as LGBTQ+.

Recent allegations that MDE has been holding secret professional development to “teach school employees how to facilitate the sexual transition of children under their care, while keeping the process a secret from parents,” are patently false and deliberately divisive. Contrary to these harmful allegations, school staff do not facilitate the sexual transition of children.

Professional development for educators on this topic has long been offered by MDE and is not secret. More than a thousand school staff seek out this professional development each year where participants learn more about LGBTQ+ students’ lived experiences, state and federal laws, and research-based best practices, as well as discussions of the nuanced situations that districts encounter.

School staff listen to children and work to help create inclusive learning environments, and the training informs educators that working with students and their parents is an essential component in this work. Any suggestion to the contrary is an attempt to bully educators and to undermine their support of children and parents.

LGBTQ+ students are substantially more likely than other students to be threatened or injured with a weapon at school, to be bullied at school or online, to skip school because they felt unsafe, to have experienced trauma, to have been pushed or kicked out of their homes, and to have attempted suicide.

The professional development provided to educators is not promoting a “radical gender theory program.” It is helping educators address the realities that they experience in their classrooms every day.

“Our local educators and support staff care deeply about their students and seek to better understand how to reach students and help them feel accepted, safe, and cared for,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael Rice. “Children deserve safe and inclusive environments to minimize their fears and anxieties and to focus on schoolwork, grow academically, and achieve success.”

Peter Tchoryk, a parent of a transgender student in Dexter, said it best:

“Our transgender son knows that his school is a safe place for him, and that the educators in his school respect him for who he is. His school is filled with compassion. In addition, staff members have knowledge, resources, and confidence to support him. They have been equipped with the tools they need to support our son, so that he may flourish academically, socially, and emotionally.”

“Gay and trans kids exist, and they deserve our full support, just like all other kids do,” Dr. Rice said.

 

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