San Francisco Public Schools Partnering with Local Children’s Hospital for Transgender Training

The staff of San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) received training provided by the University of California, San Francisco’s Benioff Children’s Hospital for at least four years on responding to transgender students and their parents’ concerns, according to a newly-released internal document.

According to internal documents and emails made public by the Freedom of Information Act request by Parents Defending Education, a parent activist group, the children’s hospital trained the district’s social workers in November 2018.

Before the training, a document was circulated to district staff that provided numerous case study scenarios of students in the school district gender-dysphoric students. The training was created by the Benioff Children’s Hospital’s Child and Adolescent Gender Center, which provides services to “transgender, nonbinary and gender-diverse children, and adolescents and takes patients as young as three years old.

The center says that for patients who haven’t reached puberty yet, it provides “care focuse[d] strictly on social and emotional development.” After puberty begins, the center offers drugs for puberty-blocking and cross-sex hormones.

In the document provided to district staff titled “Case Examples for UCSF Gender Affirmation Model, ” one of the examples was an eighth-grade student, biologically female, who has transitioned to a male identity in social situations; however, he has not taken any puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones. The scenario asked the staff members what to do if the child said, “I need testosterone, or I will die.”

“What role can the school take in supporting mom and exploring medical options? How many times is too many times to call mom about students comments about depression and testosterone?” the document asks.

SFUSD staff training: Believing there are only two genders is an “assumption”

In training provided to SFUSD staff in February 2019, titled “Gender Affirmative Care With Youth,” staff was trained that believing that there were only two genders is considered an “assumption” and that the overall goal of transgender care is to “interrupt the path of preventable distress/dysphoria that leads to poor mental health outcomes,” which “may or may not involve medical steps.”

The goals for the training were to “increase awareness and understanding of gender identity, gender expression, and gender wellness” in addition to “increase awareness of Gender Affirmative wellness” and to “increase awareness of Gender Affirmative Care Model with special attention to trauma, adolescent development and systems approaches.”

However, the school district and hospital cooperation were not limited to training. In August 2020, a hospital staffer at the hospital’s child gender center asked a district staff member how school district counselors are “permitted to see kids without parental consent for mental health treatment.”

According to the director of outreach for Parents Defending Education, Erika Sanzi, “it is a massive red flag when a nearby children’s hospital is collaborating with a school district to role-lay scenarios based in gender ideology and secure mental health counseling for minors without parental consent.”

“By communicating informally over email as they did here, everyone involved avoids the transparency and scrutiny that comes with a public meeting,” continued Sanzi. “This seems like a deliberate attempt to hide information from parents and the public.”