Simplify the Student Name Change Process

Testimony of Maddie Luebbert 1/28/21

Hi. I’m a teacher. I have no time for formal introductions since the length of public testimony has been drastically shortened. I also won’t have as much time to be clever. 

I am once again here to testify about Policy 252. Earlier this school year, this District finally released a mechanism for helping students change their names in the Google and Student Information Systems. This has by far been SDP’s most effective move in attempting to reach the target groups enumerated in 252, but we still need to do better. 

Our job is to help students change their names, and yet the process is still needlessly complicated. Students must a) magically find out about their rights enumerated in 252, b) ask staff for help (even though a student may not know who it’s safe to ask), and c) fill out a google form with essential information. Now, this should be the final step. However, then students have to check their email and respond to a message from a person they don’t know before the change can go through. This caused a one week delay for my own student earlier this year, and while it was easily fixed, my student spent a week thinking he’d sign in and be affirmed by his screen name, but was greeted instead by his deadname. 

As a teacher, it is my responsibility to reach my students, especially those with exceptionalities. If I don’t, I am falling short of my ethical and legal obligations and must accept responsibility. I cannot give failing grades if I cannot document everything I’ve done to reach certain students. 

Therefore, I’m baffled when a process that doesn’t need to be complicated is complicated. And I’m baffled when the same high standard for teachers and our work with students is not applied in other areas. 

I’m not just bringing this up to be petty. I personally know of two trans students that have been given the runaround in this obscure process. That is two too many, especially when we know these students are more likely to consider or attempt suicide if they aren’t affirmed with their proper name. 

All I ask is that every school district employee think like a teacher: can every student access a given resource? English learners? Students with IEPs? Students that haven’t learned email etiquette yet (and have no computer class in which to learn)? “It’s working fine for some kids” is not an acceptable response. 

I know that if I threw up my hands and said “Well, the assignment is posted on Google Classroom” I would be negligent at best. Hold yourselves to the same standard.