The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging teachers to become transgender activists by encouraging them to participate Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) clubs and using trans-inclusive language, according to its LGBTQ inclusivity guide.
The “LGBTQ Inclusivity in Schools: A Self-Assessment Tool,” which was published in October 2020 and recently made waves on social media, measures how participants incorporate practices that “address the needs of LGBTQ students who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized.” The assessment rates participants from “minimally inclusive” to “highly inclusive” and provides tips on how to improve scores.
During the assessment, participants analyzed how closely they relate to statements about LGBTQ-inclusive practices in the classroom which include using gender-neutral words and using chosen names and pronouns. Participants were then asked whether or not they correct people when they hear a gendered or “outdated” term.
The assessment advised using “partner” rather than “boyfriend” or “girlfriend.” It also included a glossary of LGBTQ-inclusive terms to learn which included “ally,” “cisnormative” and “gender identity.”
It also asked participants about their “beliefs, assumptions, & biases” and questioned if they believe that “gender, gender identity, and sexual orientation can be complex, are unique to an individual, and can be experienced on a continuum.”
“I cannot assume a student’s gender, gender identity, or sexual orientation,” another statement reads.
The assessment then asked if participants “participate in [their] schools’ Gay Straight Alliance/Genders and Sexualities Alliance (GSA),” which is “a student-led organization typically in middle and high school, that seeks to create safe and affirming spaces for LGBTQ students as well as to promote ally-ship among cisgender and straight peers.”
Participants who agreed with a majority of the statements were labeled as an “Awesome Ally” and praised for being “supportive of LGBTQ students.” These participants were encouraged to “share [their] knowledge with those around [them].”
Participants who disagreed with a majority of the statements were advised to “Commit to Change” and informed that they were “not currently as well prepared as [they] could be to provide inclusive and supportive environments for LGBTQ students.” These teachers were encouraged to study “trans terminology,” which includes terms like “binding,” “bottom” and “top,” as well as resources from the LGBTQ advocacy group Human Rights Campaign to build an inclusive classroom.
“Binding” is defined as “the process of tightly wrapping one’s chest in order to minimize the appearance of having breasts,” while “top” and “bottom” are used in the context of anal sex.
The CDC also recommended using the “genderbread person,” which is a visual aid used to explain the differences between “anatomical sex,” “gender expression,” “gender identity” and “attraction.”
Those who agreed with some of the statements were referred to Harvard University’s Implicit Bias Test, which assesses“conscious and unconscious preferences” for a variety of topics including political issues and ethnic groups.
The CDC packet also provided separate assessments specifically for administrators, educators, and school health staff. The educators' assessment, which is geared toward teachers, asked teachers how they incorporate inclusivity in curricula and whether they have rainbow flags in their classrooms.
The health staff assessment encouraged that sexual health courses include “information on all types of sex, not centering on penis/vagina penetrative sex” and that staff members use the terms “a body with a penis” or “a body with a vagina” to avoid saying man/woman or boy/girl.
Administrators were judged on whether or not all athletic teams were co-ed and if they provided funding for staff to attend inclusivity trainings.
The CDC acknowledged that the assessment should be an option and not a requirement used to gauge staff responses, according to the document. Instead, the CDC refers to the assessment as an “educational resource” to assist with professional development and a “collection of curated resources and tools to help schools enhance LGBTQ policies, programs, and practices.”