UTAH (ABC4) – This week, principals around Utah received a letter from a Utah lawmaker on guidance on how to respond to what she calls “the transgender phenomenon” in schools, this coming during the first week of Pride Month.

An image of the letter was posted to Twitter by Ashley Anderson, who is running for a spot on the Salt Lake City District school board. Utah groups have been responding to the letter, showing concern that it was sent with the Utah House of Representatives letterhead.

The letter outlines guidance on the treatment of transgender students and was sent by Representative Kera Birkeland, R-Morgan, who sponsored HB11, prohibiting transgender athletes from playing in girls sports.

“We want our parents and our educators to support their kids, not to support a lawmaker, not to support a political rhetoric. Look at people in the face, hug them, love them just as they are,” says Jessica Dummar, the Co-CEO of Utah Pride Center.

The Utah Pride Center, along with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Utah, posted a statement on Instagram in response to that letter.

“We wanted to point out that really what you should be doing is doing adequate research, really talking to actual parents of actual students,” Dummar said.

The letter included a copy of “Navigating the Transgender Landscape School Resource Guide” from the Child and Parental Rights Campaign.​

Their website describes them as a “nonprofit public-interest law firm founded to defend parents’ rights to shield their children from the impacts of gender identity ideology.”

There was also a link to a document titled, “Utah Public Schools Gender Guidance Resource Utah Law and Policy,” which the letter described as a “well-researched, gender-guidance policy that incorporates Utah law.”

Dummar’s concern is how this could affect transgender students, especially following HB11.

“We see right after things like this happen, we see an increase in suicide, and so for us to speak right away and immediately and tell people they are safe and tell people they are loved and tell people just as you are, you are good is really important,” she said.

Aaron Welcher from ACLU sent a statement to ABC4: 

Yesterday, the ACLU of Utah and Utah Pride Center joined together urging principals and other educators to ignore the so-called “guidance” on issues surrounding trans people. As we always have, we will remain vigilant in addressing civil rights issues, which includes transgender students across Utah. We want to make it clear spreading this guide on legislative letterhead does not make it binding on schools. Principals have an obligation to provide all students with a safe and nurturing environment.

ABC4 reached out to Rep. Birkeland for a comment but has not received a response at this time.