Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

What you need to know about LCPS’s proposed gender inclusion policy

LAS CRUCES – Another equity policy has become a hot topic of discussion within Las Cruces public schools.

On Tuesday the LCPS Board of Education gave a first reading on “Policy JBD: Gender Inclusive Schools”. The proposed directive highlights the need for the district to create a non-discriminatory educational environment for all students regardless of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression, as well as the need to protect the safety of all students regardless of gender or sexuality.

Discussion of the proposed policy was one of several items on the school board’s agenda, which brought the community to a five-hour session at Karen M. Trujillo’s administrative complex.

About a third of speakers commented on the proposed gender inclusion policy during the school council’s public commentary. Commentators spoke out both for and against the policy.

Earlier this year, the JBC Policy: Equity and Excellence for All Students, the district’s proposal for action LCPS will take to ensure a fair learning environment, also drew a long line of residents to the school board with opinions. The board of directors adopted this guideline in May.

Community votes

Community member Dora Luchini-Lucero said she disagrees with the proposed JBD policy.

“We waste all this time on the ideology of wokeism,” said Luchini-Lucero.

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She and several other community members said the district should focus more on educating students rather than “waking up” anti-discrimination policies.

Some commentators said they fail to see the value of an entirely new policy for what appears to be a relatively small population.

Several members of the LGBTQ community also appreciated the guideline.

“Whether one person, two, or even 1,000 people … we should be comfortable, no matter what we do, no matter how many of us are,” Ivan Guillen, senior at Mayfield High School, told Sun News. “No matter how many people identify themselves in this way, they should feel safe and comfortable in their daily life.

“There are a lot of LGBTQ people here, but a lot of them don’t feel comfortable being open about it because that’s how our school is. There are a lot of homophobic people here.”

Ivan, who is gay, is president of Mayfield High’s Gay Straight Alliance.

Mayfield Sr. and GSA Vice President Julianna Lucero, who is bisexual, said this proposed guideline might be required for middle school students to find out their identities.

“I have a feeling that more children would feel a lot more comfortable in their own skin if they just came to school and were themselves,” said Julianna.

Gwen Glover, a 2020 graduate of the LCPS and a current student at the University of New Mexico, said she experienced discrimination as an LGBTQ student. She called JBD “the bare minimum”.

“We’re not going to walk around with a gold star for being openly transgender,” Glover said. “It is literally only asking to reduce discrimination. There is no way someone can be against it and not speak out of prejudice.”

What is the policy saying?

The directive requires schools to have a system in place to ensure a safe and inclusive environment for all students, including those who are LGBTQ. It demands that schools have procedures in place for suspected bullying, harassment or discrimination against a person based on their gender identity or sexuality.

JBD is also calling for staff to be trained to prevent or deal with harassment or bullying of LGBTQ students. It also calls for educational training on gender identity, gender expression, and gender diversity.

The guideline does not contain any specific requirements. The rules would be established by Superintendent Ralph Ramos and individual schools.

Board response

This was the first reading of the directive so no action was taken. A second reading will take place at a board meeting in December. A vote would take place later.

LCPS Associate Superintendent of Equity, Innovation, and Social Justice Roberto Lozano presented the guideline to the board on Tuesday evening.

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Board Vice President Carol Cooper asked if a separate policy was needed as JBC already requires fair education for all students.

Although JBC includes gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation under the heading “socially constructed identity categories”, it is not specifically stated in this policy.

“When we listen to some students tonight, I think it is urgently needed,” said Chairman Ray Jaramillo. “It basically means, ‘be nice to people, be nice to people, and respect others.’

“I think JBC’s policy is similar, but I think that policy is something that lasts

to me.”

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Miranda Cyr, a member of the Report for America Corps, can be reached at [email protected] or @mirandabcyr on Twitter. Show your support for the Report for America program at https://bit.ly/LCSNRFA.

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