At the end of year, a local political group sent a new policy proposal to Huntley’s District 158 school board that could impact support for trans students. Though there are no such policies being proposed at MCHS, some wonder what could happen if more outside political groups influence school rules elsewhere in the county.
At the end of year, a local political group sent a new policy proposal to Huntley’s District 158 school board that could impact support for trans students. Though there are no such policies being proposed at MCHS, some wonder what could happen if more outside political groups influence school rules elsewhere in the county.
Maddie Canada

Parental control

At the end of 2023, a local political group proposed a policy that could impact gender affirming in Huntley’s District 158. Could similar policies be implemented into other schools in McHenry County?

A transgender student at Huntley High School fidgets in their counselor’s office. Her counselor is dialing her mom’s phone number, and she is mortified. With every ring of the phone, her heart sinks a little closer to her feet.

Her mother does not know that she is questioning her gender identity and thinking of transitioning, but she thought she could seek out confidential support from her counselor, who she trusts. Due to the school’s new policy, her counselor now must notify her mother.

Introduced to the public at the end of 2023, a political group known as Grafton Township GOP has drafted a policy for District 158 in Huntley that would require faculty, staff, and administration to notify parents if students seek assistance regarding a number of sensitive issues, including their gender identity. Though the policy has not been passed by the Huntley school board yet, members of the school board have confirmed that it will appear on an upcoming agenda.

This policy has left students and community members in surrounding schools wondering what is next. How could this impact other schools in McHenry County? What does this mean for MCHS?

At the end of year, a local political group sent a new policy proposal to Huntley’s District 158 school board that could impact support for trans students. Though there are no such policies being proposed at MCHS, some wonder what could happen if more outside political groups influence school rules elsewhere in the county.
At the end of year, a local political group sent a new policy proposal to Huntley’s District 158 school board that could impact support for trans students. Though there are no such policies being proposed at MCHS, some wonder what could happen if more outside political groups influence school rules elsewhere in the county. (Maddie Canada)

The Northwest Herald reported that the local republican group was seeking to ban gender-affirming care back in November.

The time is long past when God fearing Americans can stand idly by while evil servants of perverted philosophies foster their abominable practices upon our unsuspecting youth. Parents have a right to direct their children’s education, care, and upbringing.

— Orville Brettman, Grafton Township GOP

The policy, drafted at the end of 2023 by the Grafton Township GOP, states that teachers and staff members must get approval from a student’s parents before administering any help or resources to students for things like gender-affirming care, depression, and more.

“The District will make every reasonable effort to notify the parents or guardians of a student when providing support services,” it reads. “Such notification shall be carried out in a timely and respectful manner not to exceed 48 hours from the date support was initiated.”

While this policy has not been passed by the District 158 school board, Grafton Township GOP, who penned the policy, has been working with members of the school board to get the policy on the agenda.

“The time is long past when God fearing Americans can stand idly by while evil servants of perverted philosophies foster their abominable practices upon our unsuspecting youth,” said Grafton Township GOP member Orville Brettman. “Parents have a right to direct their children’s education, care, and upbringing.” 

At the end of year, a local political group sent a new policy proposal to Huntley’s District 158 school board that could impact support for trans students. Though there are no such policies being proposed at MCHS, some wonder what could happen if more outside political groups influence school rules elsewhere in the county.
At the end of year, a local political group sent a new policy proposal to Huntley’s District 158 school board that could impact support for trans students. Though there are no such policies being proposed at MCHS, some wonder what could happen if more outside political groups influence school rules elsewhere in the county. (Maddie Canada)

Brettman is not the only community member who feels parents need a voice. Some members of Huntley’s school board, many of whom were elected into office last year, are in favor of the change as well.

Parents play the most crucial role in their children’s lives … Parents need to be the ones to determine the best course of action for their children and should be able to decide if it is in their child’s best interest to work with our teachers and staff.

— Mike Thompson, District 158 school board member

When asked if this policy is beneficial for Huntley students, board member Mike Thompson said, “Parents play the most crucial role in their children’s lives … Parents need to be the ones to determine the best course of action for their children and should be able to decide if it is in their child’s best interest to work with our teachers and staff.”

While this policy has been present in the parent board and the GOP, Huntley High School has not been in contact with discussing or making the policy.

As the principal, I’m not aware of any specific details on this matter,” said Huntley High School  principal Dr. Marcus Belin.

While the school may not be too involved, members of the board feel very passionate about this proposed policy.

“I believe that there needs to be specific language in our policies that addresses the need for parents to be made aware of these sensitive topics before any type of care/counseling is provided by staff, teachers, and/or counselors,” Thompson said.

At the end of year, a local political group sent a new policy proposal to Huntley’s District 158 school board that could impact support for trans students. Though there are no such policies being proposed at MCHS, some wonder what could happen if more outside political groups influence school rules elsewhere in the county.
At the end of year, a local political group sent a new policy proposal to Huntley’s District 158 school board that could impact support for trans students. Though there are no such policies being proposed at MCHS, some wonder what could happen if more outside political groups influence school rules elsewhere in the county. (Maddie Canada)

With a school district in our conference and county considering this policy proposal, students and staff at MCHS may question the possibility of other schools implementing such a policy. If one school can do this, why can’t others? Will policies like this hurt transgender students and make schools less safe for them?

MCHS supports their transgender students in several ways.

“The student services team is here to support all students socially, emotionally, and academically. Gender support plans are available through MCHS with parent support,” 12th grade social worker Gabriella Johnson said.

With parent consent, a gender support plan can be established at MCHS. Part of our support is respecting confidentiality with the student but also bridging support between parent/guardian if necessary.

— Gabriella Johnson, 12th grade social worker at MCHS

Along with access to counselors and social workers, who are able to create a gender plan for individual students, there are several resources at MCHS trans students have access too, including the Chill Zone, College and Career Center, GSA club, and more.

Transgender student Kaden Schroeder feels supported by MCHS through their journey.

“They’re all cool about it like they ask first if it’s allowed to tell your parents ” says Schroeder.

Counselors and social workers notify parents when students are ready, unless there is imminent danger to themselves or others.

“With parent consent, a gender support plan can be established at MCHS. Part of our support is respecting confidentiality with the student but also bridging support between parent/guardian if necessary,” says Johnson.

While some trans students feel supported at MCHS, others do not.

“As a student at MCHS, I feel supported,” said Morgan Storer, another trans student at MCHS. “I have all the resources education wise that I need, but I don’t feel supported as a transgender individual. It’s not necessarily that I’ve been severely bullied or anything but there’s a general attitude towards queer students I’ve observed that sorta just runs rampant. ” 

While both students feel differently about the school’s efforts, they have both used the resources available to them MCHS has offered.

I have used the school for resources regarding transitioning. I have a gender care plan with the school that had mostly just allowed me to change for P.E. in one of the gender neutral bathroom …. it also changed my name and everything on email, Schoology, etc. before I had my name legally changed.”

At the end of year, a local political group sent a new policy proposal to Huntley’s District 158 school board that could impact support for trans students. Though there are no such policies being proposed at MCHS, some wonder what could happen if more outside political groups influence school rules elsewhere in the county.
At the end of year, a local political group sent a new policy proposal to Huntley’s District 158 school board that could impact support for trans students. Though there are no such policies being proposed at MCHS, some wonder what could happen if more outside political groups influence school rules elsewhere in the county. (Maddie Canada)

MCHS works in many ways to ensure trans students feel welcomed. While they do everything they can, they can not always stop the actions of other people.

“I appreciate the efforts the school makes with the gender care plan and everything but I feel like the core issue lies within the students that are bigoted,” says Storer.

I think parents want to be kept in the loop … I  also think it can hurt the experience a student has because if they’re not ready to come out to parents knowing that maybe their parents are not very accepting of what is different.

— Otto Corzo, 11th grade social worker at MCHS

At least one local political group and several board members in Huntley feel parents should be informed at all times. In fact, according to a recent poll conducted by the Center Square, most voters support policies that require educators to notify parents of students who want to change their gender identity.

“Parents are a child’s first and foremost educators, and have primary responsibility for the education of their children. Parents have a right to direct their children’s education, care, and upbringing.” Brettman says.

But is this best for the child? Does this really support them? 

“I think parents want to be kept in the loop … I  also think it can hurt the experience a student has because if they’re not ready to come out to parents knowing that maybe their parents are not very accepting of what is different,” says MCHS junior social worker Otto Corzo.

Many students go to their counselors and or social workers because they do not have a trusted adult at home to talk to. What does the student do now when they trust this person and they go and call home anyways?

When Huntley votes for this policy, the vote may come down to whose needs to prioritize: students’ or parents’.

View Comments (2)
About the Contributors
Lily Adams, Features Editor
Lily Adams is a junior at McHenry High School’s Upper Campus. When shes not at school, she is out in nature, reading, making bracelets, or hanging out with friends. While coaching a cheer team, playing tennis, being a member student council and key club, waitressing, and being a Connections Crew member, she still finds time to do what she loves. This is Lily's first year on the Messenger staff. Recognition: 2024 IHSA Sectionals (sixth in Feature Writing) “Lights on” (IWPA) "Crossing the bridge" (Best of SNO)
Maddie Canada, Contributing Photographer
Maddie Canada is a junior at McHenry High School. She enjoys spending time with animals and playing the clarinet. She participates in drama club and pep band. This is Maddie's first year on the Messenger's staff.

Comments (2)

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  • D

    Darren StorckFeb 21, 2024 at 10:04 am

    Healthcare for a minor, whether physical or mental, should be solely up to the parent/guardian. Not government, school districts, or teachers unions. When the individual reaches the age of 18, healthcare, name changes, career choices, can be made by said individual.

    Reply
    • J

      Janae RoseApr 3, 2024 at 11:11 am

      But some parents suck and are abusive. Yall talk about kids like they property.

      Reply