Osseo School Board introduces proposed gender inclusion policy

Luca Groppoli speaks to the Osseo School Board about the district’s proposed gender inclusion policy at the board meeting on June 22. “I am not for this policy,” Groppoli said at the meeting. (Photo courtesy of the Osseo School District)

A proposed gender inclusion policy was introduced at the Osseo School Board meeting on June 22.

The proposed policy would require that school officials follow several guidelines, including “respecting all students’ sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and gender nonconformity,” and “identify and address students by their preferred names and pronouns that align with their gender identity.”

There will be a four-week period between the first reading on June 22, and the second reading, at which time the School Board may vote whether or not to adopt the policy. The board will use this month-long period to facilitate opinions and thoughts from district community members.

Several district residents spoke at the meeting, both in favor and against the policy.

“I feel it is detrimental to go along and let children assume to be the other sex,” district resident Sharon Hedman said. “I respectfully ask the school district not to approve the policy.”

Luca Groppoli, a district resident, said at the meeting that she was transgender for 30-plus years but now is not, yet confessed she was the most suicidal during that time. “It was not a life that was very good for me at all,” she said. Now she does pastoral care for people who are same-sex attracted and said she is not in favor of adopting the proposed policy. “Are we going to have a bathroom for every person individually in every school in Minnesota?... I am not for this policy.”

According to the Maple Grove parents of a transgender child, it wasn’t until they removed their child from a Catholic school and into the Osseo School District that he received educational support of his identity and teachers addressed him with appropriate pronouns.

They support the proposed policy because they want other trans and gender non-conforming students and their families to rest easy knowing that the district supports them. They said they worry every day about their son being harassed or beaten up, but the adoption of a gender inclusion policy would help allay some of their concerns.

Meg Knodl also supports the gender inclusion policy. Knodl and her husband Kevin have an 8-year-old daughter, Eleanor, who attends third grade Rice Lake school. Meg said she and Kevin regularly talk with Eleanor, who is not trans or gender-nonconforming, about how some kids in school have two moms and some have two dads and how to use the correct pronouns with her friends.

Meg Knodl hopes that this policy will help others be inclusive and respectful towards gender-nonconforming and trans students. “Having a gender inclusion policy will ensure that teachers and staff and students are all respecting those students who are gender nonconforming,” she said. “We want families of gender-nonconforming and trans students to feel safer and more confident that their students are protected from hate.”

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