Cincinnati schools told to ‘consider’ reporting child abuse if parents unsupportive of child’s gender identity
Cincinnati school district tells Fox News Digital there's 'significant evidence' saying LGBTQ people at 'higher risk' of domestic abuse
FIRST ON FOX: Cincinnati public schools have been advised to "consider" reporting child abuse to child protective services if a student’s parents are unsupportive of his or her gender identity.
A student's transgender status is confidential and such information "should not be shared with parents if disclosing the information to parents could put the student at risk of harm at home," according to a 2021 memo by the Cincinnati Board of Education’s Policy and Equity Committee.
"A student's transgender status, sex at birth, and legal name are all confidential records," the memo states. "Special consideration should be given by schools about disclosing a student's gender identity to parents."
The memo, which was published in the Board of Education's meeting minutes, tells schools to consider reporting child abuse to Hamilton County Job and Family Services if a student’s gender identity puts them at risk at home.
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"Parents may or may not be supportive of the student's gender identity," it states. "This information should not be shared with parents if disclosing the information to parents could put the student at risk of harm at home. In that case, the administrator should also consider whether there is a mandatory duty to report child abuse to 241-KIDS."
During a Board of Education meeting on Sept. 13, 2021, the equity committee said Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) General Counsel Daniel Hoying provided the memo to all principals in the district at the start of the school year, saying it was the district's position.
"Mr. Hoying presented the following memo to the Committee and has provided this document to principals, as it describes the District’s position in accommodating transgender students," it states.
The committee said the recommendations in the memo were "based, in part, on best practices suggested by the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network ("GLSEN"); National Center for Transgender Equality; American Civil Liberties Union ("ACLU"); Gender Spectrum; Human Rights Campaign Foundation; National Center for Lesbian Rights; and National Educational Association."
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Nicki Neily, the president and founder of Parent Defending Education, called the district’s policy "unconscionable."
"It is unconscionable that a public school system would casually toss families into the wood chipper of the child protective services bureaucracy based on mere speculation that parents may or may not be ‘supportive’ of a child’s gender identity," she told Fox News Digital. "Doing so not only strains an already overburdened child welfare system, but also subjects loving families to a nightmarish process where they are forced to ‘prove’ that they do, in fact, love their children."
"This is such a betrayal of trust," added Erika Sanzi, the group’s director of outreach. "Treating a parent who protects their child from gender ideology as dangerous and deserving of a call to child protective services is a terrifying abuse of power."
Fox News Digital asked CPS to clarify its position on reporting child abuse as it relates to gender identity. The school district was asked whether the 2021-era policy had faced any revisions, whether a parent’s lack of support for a student’s transgender status due to religious reasons constituted child abuse, or whether a parent’s lack of support for a student’s transgender status ever resulted in a child abuse report by the school district.
Despite the memo going out to principals, the school district told Fox News Digital it is not "official district policy."
The school district said all school employees are "mandatory reporters of child abuse," and that "there is significant evidence that LGBTQ+ individuals are at a higher risk for experiencing domestic violence."
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"The link you included below is meeting minutes from the CPS Policy and Equity Committee, not official District policy, procedure or statement," the school district said. "CPS' Nondiscrimination And Access to Equal Educational Opportunity Board Policy (2260) states, "The Board of Education does not discriminate on the basis of religion, race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity or expression, disability or age in its programs, activities or employment."
"There is no Board policy relating to reporting a student's gender identity or expression to parents," the school district continued. "As written in the meeting minutes, school district employees should exercise caution if disclosing the information could put the students at risk of harm at home. Per Ohio Revised Code 2151.421, all school employees are mandatory reporters of child abuse, and a school employee is legally obligated to report information to Child Protective Services if they become aware that a student is experiencing violence at home."