FILLING IN THE BLANKS
School & Classroom Forms
About a third of the teachers said their forms for gathering student information use “mother” and “father.” Several indicated “parent” or “guardian” was used; the remainder weren’t sure.
This is an easy one. If the forms say “mother” and “father,” request that they be changed. Firstly, it’s just more efficient and aids in clearer communication. And while this might not seem to directly affect students, it does help reinforce the idea of same-sex parents as equals — both equally important, and fully equal to hetero parents.
“This was addressed recently at our school. In English our forms said ‘parents’ and/or ‘guardians.’ However, the Spanish forms referred to parents as ‘padres’ which means parents, but also technically dads or fathers. The Spanish forms have since been changed to ‘guardianes‘ (guardians). —Gil, pre-k – 8th grade phys. ed. & health teacher, Illinois
“Our forms are currently set up as ‘mother’ & ‘father.’ To get the county forms changed is beyond my pay grade, as they say. It would have to be done at the district level.” —Eric
“To get the forms changed, send a letter to the administrator responsible for student information, and copy the superintendent. If it’s not resolved, contact members of the local school board. If that doesn’t work, file a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights at the US Department of Education.” —Scott
“I believe our forms say ‘parent/guardian,’ but honestly I’ve never thought to look. Now you’ve piqued my curiosity, and I’ll be keeping my eye on it.” —Nancy, high school ESL teacher, New York
Anything that can be done to change the way people think about or see your family is beneficial — there are no small steps towards progress.