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Tulsa Public Schools posts message of acceptance regarding immigration, gender identity

TULSA, Okla. – As fears about deportation continue to grow among illegal immigrants, one local school district is spreading a message of hope and acceptance.

On Thursday, Tulsa Public Schools posted a statement in Spanish on the district’s Facebook page.

“Every family has a place at Tulsa Public Schools. We are a positive and inclusive community of people who learn, appreciate and celebrate diversity in all of its forms, including race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender identity, and gender expression. Our diversity is a community treasure that enriches teaching, learning, and working experiences in our district.

We know that our community members have questions, concerns, and fears around recent changes to federal policies. While national policy may be changing, our commitment to safe and supportive school communities is unwavering.

[Equality] is one of our core values, and we have policies in place that prohibit discrimination or harassment of our students, families, or employees on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, gender identity, gender expression, and other protected classes.

Here are some important things to know about how we live our core values:

We do not ask for immigration status when families enroll their children. We would not share information about immigration status with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. The Supreme Court’s 1982 decision in Plyler vs. Doe found that every child has a constitutional right to equal access to education regardless of their immigration status, and we welcome immigrant and refugee families at Tulsa Public Schools.

We honor the dignity and equality of our transgender and gender non-conforming students. These students have the right to present themselves in a way that is consistent with their gender identity so long as rules are followed for appropriate dress that apply to all students. They also have the right to use restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities that are consistent with their gender identity. This may include the use of gender neutral restrooms. We recognize the privacy of students in transition and would not disclose information about gender identity or expression without their consent.

In times of uncertainty, fear, or confusion, we recognize that children are looking to the adults around them to make sense of what they are seeing and hearing. We must strive to model acceptance and inclusion and encourage our students to be the change-makers and leaders who – together – forge a better future for all of us.”

Oklahoma City Public School Superintendent Aurora Lora also addressed the concerns.

“The Oklahoma City Public School District (OKCPS) has a legal obligation and is committed to providing an education to all students in a safe environment. We will support our students through our policies and practices regardless of their gender identity or expression, race, color, national origin, disability, religion, creed, or sexual orientation. OKCPS works with our students and families on a case by case basis to identify compassionate solutions that best serve the needs of all students while complying with the law.”

The message comes just days after the Trump administration withdrew a policy that offered federal protections and guidance for bathroom use by transgender students.

Last month, the president signed a pair of executive orders, laying the groundwork for building a wall along the Mexican border, beefing up immigration forces and ordering an increase in deportations of illegal immigrants.