Good news -- the Michigan Board of Education has voted to pass comprehensive protections for LGBTQ students across the entire state.
The vote came after about 60 people spoke during several hours of passionate debate from the public. And it left some overjoyed. There were tears, a lot of hugs and a lot of picture-taking outside the meeting room.
"I feel incredible," said Riley O'Brien, a transgender student and senior at Skyline High School in Ann Arbor. "This is so amazing for the future."
Among other things, the new guidelines passed by the board instructs all teachers and school staff to respect the gender identity of students and refer to them as their chosen names and pronouns even if they haven't legally changed their name.
The guidelines also state that transgender students should be permitted to use restrooms and athletic facilities that correspond with their gender identity. And, most impressively, the guidelines instruct teachers to avoid outing transgender students to their parents and family members.
The board has also instructed districts to provide training material to their staff and develop LGBTQ-inclusive classroom curriculum.
I fully expect some asshole or group of assholes will file a lawsuit against the board of education, but I'm fairly impressed by how far the board has chosen to go without being legally forced to. We need more proactive change in this country, not just change dictated by court rulings.
The Supreme Court has temporarily halted the federal government's enforcement of the guidelines adopted by the Michigan Board of Education, but that does not prevent school boards from adopting the guidelines themselves.
You can read the board's full guidelines here.