On September 14th, the Michigan State Board of Education approved of new voluntary guidelines for creating safe school environments for LGBTQ students. The Board voted 6-2 in favor of the the new guidance protocol.
Michigan State Board of Education president John Austin had a positive outlook on their future impact:
“Today’s vote sends a clear message about the kind of state Michigan is going to be. The board members supporting this guidance showed that we’re serious about improving learning and life outcomes for all our school children, including LGBT children. We’re providing a roadmap for schools across Michigan to ensure that all our kids are safe in school and put in a position to succeed.”
The State Board of Education approved of these policies as a response to the concerns of educators, who witnessed alarmingly poor attendance and academic performance of LGBT students. Modeled off of practices already in place at many Michigan schools to improve these statistics, these new guidance guidelines aim to impose that result on all Michigan schools. In fact, these statistics were recognized and included in the Official Statement and Guidance. From there, the Official Statement and Guidance moves on to outlining steps schools can take to provide a more inclusive school environment. These steps include actions such as providing LGBTQ centralized professional development, and including LGBTQ students in policies that respect students’ privacy and safety. Transgender and gender nonconforming student issues also have their own section in the Official Statement and Guidance. Furthermore, it is recognized that transgender and gender nonconforming students experience an increased risk of physical and verbal violence in schools as compared to LGB students.
It is not yet required that all Michigan schools implement this series of new policies and practices, but this is now a very vaulable resource for school boards that are interested in doing so. Michigan government is certainly taking a step in the right direction.
Image credit: Michigan.gov