Friday, January 15, 2021
33.0°F

COUNSELOR: Abuse claims unfounded

| January 14, 2021 1:00 AM

As a former Coeur d’Alene School Board member and having had a mental health counseling practice for decades in Coeur d’Alene, it is my opinion that the allegation of “abuse” or unprofessionalism of a Coeur d’Alene School District elementary school counselor as noted in the article in Sunday’s Press, and at a public “Stop the Abuse” rally on Monday, and online is not supported by the facts.

In recordings that the grandparent named in the article placed online, the counselor says to the grandmother that she tried to make a safe environment for a child to explore in counseling issues related to her gender identification. The counselor did not try to influence in any way the child’s gender preference. Supporting a child’s talking about their sexuality is not the same thing as encouraging a child to change their gender identification.

Reviewing the online recording and I believe the written records would show that the counselor and the parent were in regular communication about this child and her problems. School counselors are permitted and expected to help children with problems that they present at school. Unless a parent specifically “opts out” of counseling for a child, such counseling is authorized when a child is enrolled in a public school.

Under state law and professional ethics, when a child or adult is in counseling, whether in the private sector or public sector, that counseling is confidential. The exceptions are the legal obligations of the professionals, and others, to report suspected abuse or credible threats to harm themselves or others. None of those exceptions apply in this case.

The “Stop the Abuse” rally assumed that somehow the child was being “abused” when she talked confidentially to the school counselor about her sexuality concerns. If there was any “abuse” it was to the reputation of an excellent school counselor by certain people who apparently have an anti-LGBTQ and anti-public school agenda.

TOM HEARN

Coeur d’Alene