According to documents posted to the Baldwin County Public Schools (BCPS) website, the school system is compelling its counselors to use students’ preferred gender pronouns and teaching them how to navigate counseling situations confidentially.
In a document first reported by the Daily Caller titled “Comprehensive Counseling and Guidance Program 2022-2023” for BCPS, obtained by Parents Defending Education, the school system laid out the standards and practices for school counselors, including affirming "all students regardless of ... sexual orientation; gender identity; [and] gender expression."
The training manual for BCPS includes training material from the American School Counselor Association (ASCA).
The handbook explicitly states, “The mission of the Alabama School Counselor Association (ALSCA) mirrors the American School Counselor Association’s mission.”
The handbook touches on multiple topics for counselors in engaging with students, such as gender, sexual orientation, race, suspected abuse and self-harm.
The handbook says counselors should “respect students’ and families’ values, beliefs and cultural background, as well as students’ sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression, and exercise great care to avoid imposing personal biases, beliefs or values rooted in one’s religion, culture or ethnicity.”
The ASCA guidelines say a counselor’s “responsibility to the school” is to “exercise leadership to create systemic change to create a safe and supportive environment and equitable outcomes for all students.”
Further, the training manual states the counselor’s “duty to self” is to “develop knowledge and understanding of historic and systemic oppression, social justice and cultural models (e.g., multicultural counseling, anti-racism, culturally sustaining practices) to further develop skills for systemic change and equitable outcomes for all students.”
In another document provided by BCPS, titled “2022-2023 School Counselors’ Handbook,” confidentiality between student and counselor is thoroughly stressed.
According to the handbook, “The content of a counseling session will not be revealed to a third party unless the student’s own personal safety or the personal safety of another is involved.”
The notebook also instructs counselors to report all instances of suspected abuse or neglect to the Department of Human Resources, telling counselors, “DO NOT attempt to determine whether abuse or neglect has actually occurred.”
Both the Counselor’s Handbook and the BCPS mental health guidebook, “Mental Health Matters: Everyone has a Story,” suggest the Trevor Project and other LGBTQ+ organizations as a resource.
The Trevor Project is an online LGBTQ+ resource with a section for young LGBTQ+ people to meet other like-minded people in their local area.
The site includes educational resources like "Creating Safer Spaces in Schools for LGBTQ Youth," "Romance," Navigating LGBTQ Identities and Religion," "Black & LGBTQ: Approaching Intersectional Conversations," and sections for understanding gay, lesbian, transgender and nonbinary identities.
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