A state commission empowered to enforce ethical standards for Alaska teachers has just mandated that all state-certified educators comply with new policies on gender identification. The change happened during a Jan. 27 meeting in Anchorage.
The Professional Teaching Practices Commission took public comment in December on proposed changes to its Code of Ethics of Education Professionals. One of the changes established new legal requirements for how educators approach gender identity in classrooms and with colleagues.
The proposal added “gender identification” to the list of protected classes of students, teachers and staff. Other protected classes include race, color, creed, sex, national origin, marital status, political or religious beliefs, physical or mental conditions, family, social or cultural background and sexual orientation.
The current code prohibits educators from harassing or discriminating against people on the basis of any protected category. Educators “may not engage in a course of conduct that would encourage a reasonable student to develop a prejudice on these grounds.”
Increasingly, gender identity laws are being imposed by state agencies across the country. Typically they bestow legal protections for those who identify as members of the opposite sex or who view themselves as asexual or transsexual. Legal protections often include the right to use bathrooms, showers and locker rooms in accordance with whichever sex one identifies with. Other rights often include the ability to participate in sports and other organizations based on the gender one identifies with regardless of biology.
Gender identity laws stem from gender theories, which claim that sexual identity is not fixed at birth or the product of objective biological realities. Rather than male and female, gender theory claims there is a kind of gender spectrum.
In Alaska the changes to the Code of Ethics of Education Professionals now apply to anyone holding an Alaska teaching certificate, including student teachers. Those found in violation could have their certificate revoked.
According to its website, The Professional Teaching Practices Commission has the right to “define and to enforce ethical standards” of all certified teachers. The Alaska Legislature established and empowered the nine-member commission to impose sanctions against the certificates of educators who engage in “illegal, immoral, or unethical conduct.”
The commission is composed of five teachers, one superintendent, one principal, one representative of the Department of Education & Early Development, and one representative of higher education. The commission includes the following members: Chair Melody Mann, Vice Chair Maureen van Wagner, Secretary Frances Roberts, David DeVaughn, Rebecca Himschoot, Paul Prussing, Martin Laster, David Piazza and David Legg.
For more information about the The Professional Teaching Practices Commission, contact James Seitz at Jim.Seitz@alaska.gov or call (907) 269-6579. Click here to visit the commission’s website.