Last week, the Nevada Department of Education held a hearing for the public to voice their concerns regarding a prospective statewide gender policy that would protect “the rights and needs of persons with diverse gender identities or expressions.” Under this regulation, students would have freedoms like choosing their preferred name during graduation or picking a cap and gown appropriate to their gender identity. Unfortunately, the response from attendees was more negative than positive.

Despite the inclusiveness of the policy, numerous parents openly opposed the idea, arguing that such rules would put their child at risk of being bullied for their “Christian beliefs.” Comments like this aided the State Superintendent Steve Canavero in deciding to push back on advancing the policy for final approval from the state Legislative Commission.

Personally, I’m confused by the public’s response. I would understand if an argument against the regulation proved that the policy does more harm than good, but instead, the backlash is rather hypocritical.

For example, one argument against the regulation is religion based. The policy infringes on one’s faith, so then we need to abandon the policy to infringe on others’ individual liberties? What happened to the separation of church and state?

Additionally, contrary to what some parents believe, the policy doesn’t mean that students will be punished for calling their peers the name or pronouns. Instead, it just adds another layer to Nevada’s anti-bullying laws.

To be fair, parents weren’t the only ones with conservative backlash. One student stated the following: “A boy is a boy and a girl is a girl. [The policy] does not promote moral values, rather it corrupts them.” By invalidating the existence of transgender students, one only further verifies why this legislation is necessary–to prevent misunderstanding, harassment and discrimination.

Gender diverse students deserve just as much protection as any other students. A number of people tend to get so caught up in this traditional idea of identity that they let it distract themselves from the personalities behind the appearance.

As 2018 approaches, it’s important that we expand gender diversity beyond just Washoe County in Nevada and follow states like California with their law prohibiting discrimination against gender expression. To create a safe learning environment, we must chip away at the stigma surrounding differing identities. For example, if diversity is normalized, bullying would probably be less of an issue.

While the gender diversity regulation may be delayed for the state, CCSD is currently in the midst of drafting their own policy, holding public meetings at local high schools. If you have time, I suggest stopping by to speak your opinion; your voice is worth more than you realize.

Do you think cisgender students will get bullied for “Christian beliefs” that they may have?