These definitions are provided not for the purpose of labeling students but rather to assist in understanding this policy and the legal
obligations of school and district personnel. Students may or may not use these terms to describe themselves.
BULLYING: Written, verbal, or physical conduct that is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive to limit a student’s ability to
participate in, or benefit from, a program or activity of a public school or local educational agency; or to create a hostile or
abusive educational environment, adversely affecting a student’s education, including acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression
or intimidation. This includes bullying that is based on a student’s actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability,
sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, or another distinguishing characteristic. This also includes conduct that
targets a student because of a characteristic of a friend, family member, or other person or group with whom a student associates.
Bullying is frequently referred to as harassment when it pertains to a characteristic protected by non-discrimination laws.
GENDER EXPRESSION: The manner in which a person represents or expresses gender to others, often through behavior, clothing, hairstyles,
activities, voice, or mannerisms.
GENDER IDENTITY: A person’s deeply held sense or psychological knowledge of their own gender, which can include being female, male,
another gender, or no gender. Gender identity is an innate and largely inflexible part of a person’s identity. One’s gender identity
can be the same or different than the gender assigned at birth. The responsibility for determining an individual’s gender identity
rests with the individual. Children typically begin to understand their own gender identity by age four, although the age at which
individuals come to understand and express their gender identity may vary based on each person’s social and familial social
GENDER-NONCONFORMING: A term for people whose gender expression differs from stereotypical expectations, such as “feminine” boys,
“masculine” girls, and those who are perceived as androgynous. This includes people who identify outside traditional gender categories
or identify as multiple genders. Other terms that can have similar meanings include gender diverse or gender expansive.
NON-BINARY/GENDERQUEER: Terms used by those who identify with neither, both, or a combination of male and female genders.
SEXUAL ORIENTATION: A person’s romantic or sexual attraction to people of the same or opposite gender or multiple genders. Transgender
and gender nonconforming people may have any sexual orientation.
TRANSGENDER: An adjective describing a person whose gender identity or expression is different from that traditionally associated with
an assigned sex at birth. This term is frequently shortened to “trans.”
TRANSITION: The process in which a person goes from living and identifying as one gender to living and identifying as another.
Transition is a process that is different for everyone, and it may or may not involve social, legal, or physical changes. There is no
one step or set of steps that an individual must undergo in order to have their gender identity affirmed and respected.
1. Gender refers to the socially constructed roles, behaviors, activities, and attributes that a given society attaches to femininity
2. Gender Binary refers to the social construction of a gender dichotomy between masculinity and femininity. The gender binary often
ignores or denigrates alternate gender constructions.
3. Gender Expression refers to the manner in which persons represent or express gender to others, often through behavior, clothing,
hairstyles, activities, voice, or mannerisms.
4. Gender Identity refers to a person’s deeply held sense or knowledge of their own gender.
5. Gender Nonconforming is a term for persons whose gender expression differs from stereotypical expectation. This includes persons who
identify outside traditional gender categories or identify as both genders.
6. Sex refers to a person’s biology and is generally categorized as male, female, or intersex.
7. Intersex refers to a combination of features that distinguish male and female anatomy.
8. Transgender is an adjective describing persons whose gender identity or expression is different from that traditionally associated
with the sex at birth.
Understanding the terminology associated with gender identity is important to providing a safe and supportive school environment for
students whose rights are protected under the law. The following terms appear in this document and are defined to assist in
understanding the guidance presented. Although these are the most commonly used terms, students may prefer other terms to describe
their gender identity, appearance, or behavior.
The term “gender identity” is specifically defined in the Mass. General Laws, as amended by An Act Relative to Gender Identity (the
gender identity law).
Gender expression: the manner in which a person represents or expresses gender to others, often through behavior, clothing, hairstyles,
activities, voice, or mannerisms.
Gender identity: as defined in part at G.L. c. 4, § 7, is “a person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not
that gender-related identity, appearance or behavior is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or
assigned sex at birth...”
Gender nonconforming: a term used to describe people whose gender expression differs from stereotypic expectations.
The terms “gender variant” or “gender atypical” are also used.
Transgender: an umbrella term used to describe a person whose gender identity or gender expression is different from that traditionally
associated with the assigned sex at birth.