Gearing up for the meeting…

I got off work this Friday to find a message from the school. This left me standing at the bus stop, cars speeding past, trying my hardest to listen. Jeremy had been sent home that day, I could call “him” to find out why. The message was hours old; the person’s name blurred by static. And, of course it was too late to call back. They did, however, want to meet on Tuesday to discuss my letter. Luckily I have Tuesday off this week and Jeremy’s anger management appointment is first thing that morning, which left most of the day clear.

I called Jeremy while I was on the bus to see what happened.

“Apparently there’s a new school rule,” zie immediately informed me. “No one in the entire school is allowed to have a bag by their desk, in case they’re going to start dealing drugs. Unless they’re in a wheelchair like [classmate] or are a teacher, because the teachers are allowed to keep their purses on the floor by their desk.”

My heart sank. I’d struggled for hours to find a compromise between Jeremy’s frantic need to have electronics nearby so zie can stay calm and zir teacher’s insistence on not having “gadgets” on Jeremy’s desk. I’d picked the smallest bag Jeremy owns…

the presents from me

The bag in question would be the blue TARDIS bag near the top, the box in front holds a coffee mug to give some perspective. I told zir that zie couldn’t have anything hanging out of the bag. I figured that would be discreet enough and not a distraction but, at the same time, it would award Jeremy with some comfort. A friend is currently mailing zir a small SuperMario star stress ball.

I called the school first thing this morning then sat around waiting for a call back. I finally got one an hour and a half later from the head of the special education department. She was able to set an appointment for tomorrow afternoon, which is great. The call tanked from there.

I stated in the letter that I would like Jeremy to attend the meeting. She didn’t think that would be a good idea, claiming that if Jeremy attends we’ll only get “his perception” and she wants me to know what’s really happening. She went on to tell me that “he found the letter to be very empowering” (this was said with a tone of disapproval) and that “he’s” taken the letter to be set in stone. Apparently the accommodations I suggested would be a distraction to all the other students in the classroom.

This left me wondering what on earth’s in the letter that’s so distracting. I didn’t ask for much. I want Jeremy to use zir netbook for assignments but zie’s not the only child in class with a laptop. I asked for zir to be able to use a stress ball, which is hardly outrageous when it comes to accomodations. Zie’ll be squeezing it, not lobbing it at zir classmates. And, of course, the infamous bag by zir feet. Presumably that would be a distraction with three teachers standing over Jeremy, telling zir to put it away now or face the consequences. I fail to see how a small bag, tucked away under the desk, would be a distraction otherwise.

She wouldn’t clarify what was the distraction though, just reiterated that we’ll discuss it at the meeting.

I insisted Jeremy needs to be at the meeting, that zie needs a voice in the discussion. I stressed that Jeremy feels unwelcome in the school; that zir voice isn’t heard. She retaliated by claiming this was an adult discussion and needed to stay among the adults. I reminded her that zie’s going to be 18 years old in half a year and is technically an adult. Zie needs to have input into zir future. I don’t think she was thinking very positive thoughts about me at this moment. I didn’t really care.

I then went on to inform her that Jeremy’s picked out pronouns and is now using zie and zir. I even spelled them out. Her response? A rather patronizing,”And that’s fine,” followed by, “now I think it best if he stays in the classroom while we discuss…” He.

So from the sounds of it I’ll be in the meeting first while we hammer out information then Jeremy can come in and offer zir input… but by then almost everything will be discussed. “Some say” being a step up from the “no say” zie was originally getting. I will have to sit down and hammer out Jeremy’s wishes and goals this afternoon once zie wakes. What a far cry from grade school where they insisted zie attend every meeting from grade six on upward because zie was going off to high school soon and needed to learn how to make decisions and use zir voice.

Last night Jeremy informed me that, while zie knows zie’s not 100% male, zie’s trying out pronouns to see which fits best… zie or he. My friend Lenny assured me this is normal and that zie needs some real life exposure to get an idea of what feels better. Normal or not, I’m already panicking at the thought of going into the school to battle for zir right to use the pronouns of zir choice. The thought of zir saying in another month that zie’d rather be referred to as he and having to re-explain all this to the school has me reaching for a paper bag to breathe into. Judging from her “that’s fine” comment, immediately followed by “he”, I’m figuring we’re going to have quite a battle on our hands no matter which pronoun ultimately feels right for Jeremy.

Which brings me to my final bit of irony. This is on the front of Jeremy’s school calendar…

year of the ally

Ally… you’re doing it wrong

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15 thoughts on “Gearing up for the meeting…

  1. Is zie into fairies and fantasy? I’ve fae/faer/faers/faerself on a few nonbinary sites. Very popular with gaymers (that is spelled correctly), otherkin, RPGS and MMORG players, LARPers, etc who are nonbinary. Definitely might not be applicable to school, but good for off the clock living. My parents refuse to use male pronouns with me, but agreed to the gender-neutral “they” ones for now till I “see a therapist”. (They so need to catchy up with to times I. That. Everyone else supports me, why can’t they? Can’t wait to find a second job, save up, and move out. If they can’t respect at that point, I can cut them out till they do.)

      • They think it’s another phase and if I was serious I would have come out years ago. Because that’s “when all [my] cousins came out”. No, not everyone comes out young. I’ve tried and was constantly rejected, so of course I tried to re-appropriate as best I could to the least common denominator that wouldn’t lead to total rejection. Well, I got tired of being rejected and for not being myself. Once I move out, if they don’t like it, I just won’t be involved. Too many coworkers, associates, friends, and even strangers who say, “All the power to” me.

      • Everything parents don’t like is dismissed as a phase. I’m going through an atheism and vegetarian phase myself. I’ve been an atheist since I was 15 and a vegetarian since I was 22. I’m 44 now so feel free to do the math if you want (no really, I’m not hunting through Windows 8 for the calculator again).

        I’ve got a friend who came out as a lesbian in her late 30’s or early 40’s. If they think everyone comes out in their teens then they’ve led very sheltered lives.

        Also, how the heck many cousins do you have?

      • Dad’s brother married four times and has 6 kids and heaven knows how many grand kids, most older than me. Mom has 4 other siblings all a generation older than her…for most of my cousins close to my age, my grandmother is their GREAT grandmother. I come from 2 very large families…

  2. It’s a tough job for a parent- fighting your kid’s battles, being the voice… When it does down to it, you are your own child’s best advocate. We would like to think that schools are considering the students but sometimes they just get so caught up in the rules that they forget they are dealing with children and their parents.

    You’ve got this! It’s a shame that the school is making this so difficult. It really does appear that they aren’t really considering Jeremy in all of this!

  3. More battles. The deck is stacked against you.
    Usually, I am the most positive person ever. But, from what you are writing, they have already decided not to listen to you, or your child, or to take either one of you seriously.
    The good thing is that you now have nothing more to lose. Give them your best case. Allow them the chance to demonstrate how ignorant they trully can be.

  4. I just want to say I just started reading the story of you and Jeremy’s interactions with zir school, and I am so sorry that this is what you’re dealing with! I don’t know what the laws are where you are, but I know that where I live, this kind of stuff is absolutely illegal. I work as a teacher and am dealing with similar stuff on an employee end, and would be happy to talk more and share resources if you’d like. Thank you for advocating so hard for your kiddo. It’s what any parent should do, and I wish mine did. I’m glad your doing right by Jeremy. If the school can’t handle zir pronouns changing (from he to zie and back again, if needed), that is 100% on them! It’s anybody’s basic right to have gender-affirming language, as we both know.

    Thanks again for writing! Even though the issues are different, I feel a little less alone with my own administrative meetings and conversations about gender.

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