Male Parapros for Female Students – A Good Idea?

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The school assigned a male parapro to my daughter with mild mental disabilities. I’m concerned about her safety and modesty. We are not comfortable with this.

What can we do to ensure appropriate behavior when a male is assisting her, versus a female?

It is hard to imagine a “reasonable” adult male who would be qualified or would want to provide for a 15-year-old’s needs, including feminine hygiene.

You want the school to help you teach her to live independently as an adult. It will take a team effort between parents and school to accomplish this.

Indiana Advocate Pat Howey suggests, “Sometimes when schools offer improper services, parents can help by suggesting goals and objectives/benchmarks.”

IDEA 2004 does not require short term objectives or benchmarks, but it may be appropriate for parents to ask the school to put these objectives into practice through the IEP.

The school does not have to put the parents’ suggested goals and objectives into the IEP. However, notes and papers from the meeting will show that the parents had practical requests to help their child learn to live safely and independently as an adult.

As teachers read the parents’ clear, sensible goals and objectives, it is possible that a teacher or other school staff member will “see the light.” Perhaps a teacher will support the parents’ desire to prepare this teenager for adult life.

Read Pat’s article on Male Aides for Female Students.

You will see how creating sensible goals, objectives, and benchmarks in the IEP can help the parent-school team focus on specific concerns and address practical issues, including modesty and safety.

Can the parent require an aide of a particular gender?

In a California case, the sole issue was whether a male one-to-one aide was necessary in order for the male 8th-grade student with Asperger’s and Tourette’s to receive FAPE.

The student’s IEP required that he receive one-to-one aide support for the entire school day. The parents were concerned that the student would not be able to utilize the female aide assigned to him in the boys’ locker room (leaving him vulnerable to harassment and perhaps not receiving prompts to lock up his clothes).

The Hearing Officer further found no evidence that a female aide was more socially inhibiting than a male aide, but determined that it would be better if the school assigned someone else.

Nevertheless, the school was not required by FAPE to assign a different aide as the services were appropriate. Dublin Unified School District, 37 IDELR 22 (SEA CA 2002).

From: IDEA FAQ: 1-1 Aides, Nurses & Parent-Contracted Service Providers at School.  ©2009, RICHARDS LINDSAY & MARTIN, L.L.P. All Rights Reserved. Tri-State Conference Fall 2009. Page 7



  1. I wouldnt worry, when it comes to changing clothes or using the bathroom, the school should never allow a single person in the room. Not only that, but no male paraeducator would put himself (or be allowed) in that position. As for the rest, males are great paras. just adress your concerns with the teacher

  2. I have worked with some amazing aides/paras both male and female. No one seems to complain when female aides diaper, change, etc. male students but some complain when male aides to do the same for female students. There are many issues in this. First, there are more female aids available/employed. Two, as a parent I would ONLY want a female aide if I had a daughter with such needs. I know many female students who vocalize the preference for female aids. There is something called “modesty” that needs to be respected even for students who cannot speak for themselves. Never assume anything in this day and age. Let us not put our rights above the students’ needs, modesty, etc.

  3. ‘It is hard to imagine a “reasonable” adult male who would be qualified or would want to provide for a 15-year-old’s needs, including feminine hygiene.’

    This is a sexist statement.
    A human who is passionate about the helping others and has had the training in the area would be reasonable to want to help anyone who needs it.

    However, if we men are to be discriminated against by people like this author; I would not at all mind if you went back to the nurturing jobs of the past and leave the rest of the workplaces to us men.

    • Even as a 40 year old woman without mental disabilities, I would not want a male to provide assistance with my feminine hygiene needs. Do you even know what that means? And I’m not shy about my body at all definitely not prudish, this just seems like an uncomfortable situation for the girl. If this is sexist, then I’m good with that. Not saying you aren’t qualified to do anything and everything. And I’m sure you are very capable. There are some places where it’s ok to draw a few lines. I’m all for freedom and non-discrimination until it infringes on my personal rights. A young girl has a right to have privacy for her body from anyone. It’s not a matter of CAN you do it, it’s a matter of comfort for the “patient” – that seems to be lost here.

    • In multicultural school systems with a variety of needs beyond special education, many parents do make requests at many levels. The reasons may be for gender, race, ethnicity, and let us not forget trauma issues which much be considered. Feminine hygiene needs (since we are specific) should be handled by a female. Most schools have many more female aides than male aides. It is not sexist–it is the “right” thing to do for the modesty of the students, many whom are very vulnerable. Are there men who could do this job who are trained, yes, indeed. It is “reasonable” given my comments if the parents say, no?

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