Gender Inclusive Schools

Using the Gender Inclusion Policy Builder

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Locally controlled school boards often find themselves creating policy after a transgender student comes forward to ask for supports at school. Content concerning gender identity and gender expression may also be unfamiliar to some board members. Without a place to begin, developing such a important policy can seem like a overwhelming task.

Fifteen states and the District of Columbia have developed policy guidance for schools regarding the support of transgender and gender diverse students. The "Gender Inclusive Policy Builder" was created as a resource to expedite the process of developing gender inclusion policies. School boards do not need to reinvent the wheel, or become experts on gender inclusion, to create policy that will help keep their students safe!

Take a look through each of the different sections, see how other states have organized their guidance, and mix and match the language that works best for your school board.

Important Notes:

  • All policies, or guidance, were created by state government entities.

  • Some policies were created several years ago. Recent policies are more likely to have language and terms that considered acceptable by the transgender community.

  • In some cases, Departments of Education did not issue a comprehensive policy, instead directing school districts to state school boards associations. While not analyzed here, those resources would also be helpful during policy development.

  • The name of the state in each section is a link to the full policy.

  • *Gender Inclusive Schools does not assume responsibility for the legality of any information provided. No content is intended to replace the advice of legal council.    

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Students are safer at school when expectations are clearly defined and communicated to all stakeholders in the community.

Introduction

 

Consistent with our mission to provide a world-class education for all students, from early childhood to adulthood, the California Department of Education issues the following Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in an effort to (a) foster an educational environment that is safe and free from discrimination for all students, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression, and (b) assist school districts with understanding and implementing policy changes related to AB 1266 and transgender student privacy, facility use, and participation in school athletic competitions.

These FAQs are provided to promote the goals of reducing the stigmatization of and improving the educational integration of transgender and gender nonconforming students, maintaining the privacy of all students, and supporting healthy communication between educators, students, and parents to further the successful educational development and well-being of every student.


In growing numbers, transgender and gender non-conforming students are coming forth in schools. Transgender students are children whose assigned birth sex does not match their internalized sense of who they are as either a boy or a girl, that is, their gender identity. For example, a transgender girl is one who was assigned the sex of male at birth but has a clear and persistent female gender identity. A transgender boy is one who was assigned the sex of female at birth but has a clear and persistent male gender identity. For most of these children, having a persistent cross-gender identification can be interruptive of their healthy emotional and psychosocial development unless and until they receive support for expressing their gender identity and receive recognition for that gender identity. Gender non-conforming students are those whose gender-related identity, appearance, or behavior do not in some way meet the stereotypically expected norms for a student of that assigned sex at birth. It includes transgender students who live their lives consistent with their gender identity rather than their assigned birth sex. It also includes masculine appearing or acting female students as well as feminine appearing or acting male students. The law requires that all of these students be guaranteed an equal educational opportunity.

There is evidence that a school’s failure to recognize and support a child’s gender identity or expression can result in significant harm to the child. That harm has been the basis of several successful and pending lawsuits against schools and school districts across the country.5 This document describes the ways in which schools can provide a safe, supportive and nondiscriminatory learning environment for transgender and gender non-conforming students. These youth, because of widespread misunderstanding and lack of knowledge about their lives, are at higher risk for peer ostracism, victimization, and bullying in the school environment, in addition to the psychological harm they may suffer in an environment that rejects them for their gender identity. At the same time, many school administrators may not know best practices for ensuring these young people’s safe and dignified integration into school systems. These realities create a higher potential for the development of maladaptive behaviors along with diminished self-esteem, confidence and self-worth for transgender and gender non-conforming youth who are in school environments without systems in place to provide them appropriate support.

Ensuring a safe, nurturing and equal educational environment for these children and youth involves a system-based approach. It is imperative that the school system, along with family and education professionals, be supportive role models and strong advocates for the safety and well-being of such children including ensuring full respect for the expression of the student’s gender identity.


This guidance provides assistance regarding common issues of concern that need to be addressed to provide appropriate supports for transgender students and the school community. These guidelines are designed to provide basic direction for schools. They will not cover every situation that arises. The intent is to provide immediate guidance for schools to create a safe and nurturing learning environment for all students and to provide school officials with awareness of best practices to address situations as they arise.

Transgender students’ needs can be highly individualized depending upon the circumstances of the student. Each student’s needs should be assessed on a case-bycase basis, which can be accomplished by meeting with the student and, if appropriate, with the student’s parents or guardians. School staff should let the student take the lead in determining and expressing their own gender identity and should be mindful of the student’s right to privacy and confidentiality with respect to their gender identity and expression.


In a recent court case, a Maine court ordered a school district to pay a student $75,000 for not allowing the student to use the public bathroom of the gender for which that student identified. This case serves as an important reminder to school districts that they have a responsibility to ensure equal treatment for all students. Title IX protects transgender students from sex discrimination. Additionally, Iowa Code section 216.9 clearly delineates that protection from unfair practices and discriminatory acts in education includes gender identity.


As an initial matter, while the text of the Education Rule addresses sex discrimination only, its provisions are also applicable to unlawful education discrimination on the basis of race, national origin, physical or mental disability, and sexual orientation. The rules, like the MHRA itself, are meant to be interpreted broadly. In particular, with regard to discrimination on the basis of sex and sexual orientation, including gender identity and gender expression, the Commission’s rules are intended to be liberally construed to facilitate inclusion and educational opportunity for transgender individuals. Whenever educational or extra-curricular opportunities offered by a covered educational institution are offered separately to students based on sex and/or gender, students shall be allowed to participate in accordance with their gender identity.


Maryland schools have a history of commitment to educating all students to reach their highest potential. School safety is a vital component of that commitment. Safety and prevention efforts, long the hallmark of Maryland’s success, have provided students with safe, respectful, engaging, and welcoming environments in which to grow and learn. In growing numbers transgender and gender non-conforming students are becoming more comfortable with who they are and are more visible in schools. Providing schools with information, support, and best practices is an important step in assuring welcoming, caring, respectful and affirming environments for all students.

It is the hope of the Maryland State Department of Education that this document may provide technical guidance and assistance as each Maryland school system works to support the rights of all students, including those who are transgender and gender nonconforming. These guidelines are designed to serve as suggestions for consideration for school systems and administrators who may want to develop their own transgender policy, procedures, and/or guidelines.


All students need a safe and supportive school environment to progress academically and developmentally. Administrators, faculty, staff, and students each play an important part in creating and sustaining that environment. This guidance is intended to help school and district administrators take steps to create a culture in which transgender and gender nonconforming students feel safe, supported, and fully included, and to meet each school’s obligation to provide equal educational opportunities for all students, in compliance with G.L. c. 76, §5 and the state regulations. The guidance sets out general principles based on the law, and addresses common issues regarding transgender and gender nonconforming students. It offers case studies based on experiences of schools and students in Massachusetts, and reflects the need to consider issues on a case-by-case basis. The list of issues is not exhaustive, and the examples are intended to be illustrative, not prescriptive. In preparing this guidance, the Department reviewed policies and guidance from several states, organizations, and athletic associations and consulted with the field. We appreciate the input we received from school and district administrators, advocacy groups, parents, students, and other interested constituents.

The Act can be found at http://www.malegislature.gov/Laws/SessionLaws/Acts/2011/Chapter199


The below are meant to be guidelines to support schools in creating an inclusive school environment for all students. These guidelines are voluntary and should not be considered mandates or requirements. Decisions by districts to utilize this guidance should be made at the local level employing the normal community input process.

The State Board of Education (SBE) is committed to promoting a safe, supportive, and inclusive learning environment for all students and ensuring that every student has equal access to educational programs and activities. Due to a variety of factors, the school experience can be significantly more difficult for some students including those with marginalized identities. Students continue to face challenges that threaten their health, safety, and learning opportunities in schools.

Research indicates that LGBTQ students, nationally and in Michigan, are targeted with physical violence and experience a hostile school environment more frequently than their non-LGBTQ peers. 

• Data from the 2015 Michigan Youth Risk Behavior Survey1 (YRBS) show that students who identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB), 8.4 percent of all high school students, are 2.3 times more likely to be threatened or injured with a weapon on school property than their non-LGB peers, and they are 2.3 times more likely to skip school because they feel unsafe. Forty-one percent of LGB students report being bullied on school property, and they are 4.5 times more likely to attempt suicide.

• According to a national report, 26 percent of transgender students were physically assaulted, (e.g., punched, kicked, or injured with a weapon) in school in the past year because of their gender expression.

• Overall, LGBTQ students who are bullied and harassed are more likely to experience depression and anxiety, feel excluded from the school community, and experience lower academic achievement and stunted educational aspirations. • Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) students are over-represented in the unaccompanied homeless youth population, creating significant barriers to health, safety, and school success.

• Not all LGBTQ students are equally affected by these risk factors. LGBTQ students with intersecting, marginalized identities are at greater risk of negative outcomes, including school failure and dropout. • The adverse health and educational consequences for transgender students are even greater than those for LGB students. Supportive environments that acknowledge and affirm a student’s identity are protective factors that improve health and educational outcomes. As articulated in our strategic goals, the SBE and the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) are committed to reducing the impact of high-risk factors and providing equitable resources and access to quality educational opportunities to meet the needs of all students. The SBE recognizes the need for all students to have a safe and supportive school environment to progress academically and developmentally, and believes school administrators, teachers, staff, families, and students all play an important role in creating and sustaining that environment. To that end, students should be treated equally, fairly, and be protected from discrimination based on their real or perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression.

The SBE encourages districts to consider these best-practices strategies to create a more supportive learning environment for all students, including those who are LGBTQ. Districts should engage with their community to develop a process that works for all students.


Safe, supportive and welcoming schools play a pivotal role in ensuring students are engaged in learning and that nothing hinders their ability to achieve their best in the classroom. The School Safety Technical Assistance Council seeks to help all schools in Minnesota ensure that all students in Minnesota regardless of their color, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation are afforded a safe, supportive and welcoming school environment where they can achieve success. Ensuring that transgender and gender nonconforming students are safe and supported in school has been an emerging issue throughout the nation and in school districts and charter schools throughout Minnesota. During the last three years, an increasing number of school and school district administrators and staff members as well as students and families have contacted the Minnesota Department of Education and the School Safety Technical Assistance Center (http://education.state.mn.us/MDE/dse/safe/) seeking technical assistance on how to ensure safe, supportive and inclusive environments for all students, including transgender and gender nonconforming students.

In response, the council, which oversees the center, formed a workgroup to develop this toolkit to help school districts and charter schools create school environments where transgender and gender nonconforming students are safe, supported and fully included, and have equal access to the educational opportunities provided to all students as required by federal or state law.


The New York State Education Department (“NYSED”) is committed to providing all public school students, including transgender and gender nonconforming (“GNC”) students, with an environment free from discrimination and harassment, to fostering civility in public schools, and to ensuring that every student has equal access to educational programs and activities. The Dignity for All Students Act (“DASA”) illustrates the State’s commitment to ensuring that all students are educated in a safe and supportive school environment.

The purpose of this guidance is to assist school districts in fostering an educational environment for all students that is safe and free from discrimination—regardless of sex, gender identity, or expression—and to facilitate compliance with local, state and federal laws concerning bullying, harassment, discrimination, and student privacy. All students need a safe and supportive school environment to progress academically and developmentally. Administrators, faculty, staff, and students each play an important part in creating and sustaining that environment. This guidance document is intended as a resource guide to help school and district administrators continue to take proactive steps to create a culture in which transgender and GNC students feel safe, supported, and fully included, and to meet each school’s obligation to provide all students with an environment free from harassment, bullying and discrimination. This guidance is intended to be complimentary to the existing comprehensive resources made available by NYSED relating to the implementation of DASA.

In order to make this document as helpful as possible, illustrative examples that highlight frequently-asked questions appear throughout in italics. These scenarios and remedies are based on real-life examples from New York-based students and schools, and are not meant to be exhaustive of all potential scenarios or remedies appropriate for each school community.


As a response to student, parent, and school district requests, the Oregon Department of Education, working with stakeholders, developed these guidelines to provide assistance for districts to foster an educational environment that is safe, free from discrimination, and aligned with state and federal laws. These guidelines are designed to be used by school boards, administrators and other members of the educational community to guide development of school procedures and district policies related to transgender and gender nonconforming students.

The guidelines are intended to suggest best practices and to provide a foundation for the educational community to build safe and supportive school cultures. These guidelines are not legal advice, nor should they be relied on as legal advice. If you require legal advice regarding the issues discussed in these guidelines, please consult an attorney. In order to make this document as helpful as possible, illustrative examples that highlight frequently-asked questions and best practices for addressing these questions appear throughout in italics. While these scenarios and remedies are based on real-life examples personally identifiable student information and specific school information has been changed to protect the privacy of the students involved. These scenarios are also not meant to be exhaustive of all potential scenarios or remedies appropriate for each school community.


The Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education is committed to ensuring safe and supportive learning environments for all Rhode Island youth. It is imperative that the school system, along with family and education professionals, be supportive role models and strong advocates for the safety and well-being of children. All students need a safe and supportive school environment to progress academically and developmentally. Therefore, the purpose of this guidance is to:

• Foster an educational environment that is safe and free from discrimination for all students, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression

• Facilitate compliance with state and federal law concerning bullying, harassment, and discrimination, • Reduce the stigmatization of and improve the educational integration of transgender and gender non-conforming students, maintaining the privacy of all students, and fostering cultural competence and professional development for school staff

• Support healthy communication between educators and parent(s)/guardian(s) to further the successful educational development and well-being of every student.

The need for this guidance is clear. The Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s survey including more than 10,000 youth entitled, Growing UP LGBT in America, found that 42% of gender nonconforming youth report frequently or often being called names and 40% reported being frequently or often excluded. Further, over half of gender nonconforming youth reported that they did not participate in activities offered by the school out of fear of discrimination. Additionally, the Journal of Adolescent Health (2015) reported that transgender youth were more likely to report: being diagnosed with depression compared with students who were not transgender (50.6% vs. 20.6%); suffering from anxiety (26.7% vs. 10%); attempting suicide (17.2% vs. 6.1% ); and engaging in self-harm activities with lethal intentions (16.7% vs. 4.4%).

Federal and State laws provide a legal framework to guide school policies and practices related to discrimination based on sex, gender identity and gender expression. Enumeration of subgroups within Civil Rights Laws is necessary because those subgroups tend to experience discrimination more than other groups. Enumeration specifically identifies categories of people who must be included within the protection of the law. However, the overall purpose of this guidance is to ensure safe and supportive environments for all students.

The Rhode Island Department of Education Office of Student, Community and Academic Supports, Safe & Supportive Environments subcommittee, reviewed policies and guidance from several states, organizations, and consulted with experts in the field to develop this document. The input we received from school and district administrators, advocacy groups, parents, students, and other interested constituents, is reflected herein.


Many questions arise for students and school staff when considering the best supports for transgender and gender nonconforming students. These sample procedures are designed to provide direction for schools to address issues that may arise concerning the needs of transgender and gender nonconforming students. All students need a safe and supportive school environment to progress academically and developmentally. Administrators, faculty, staff, and students each play an important part in creating and sustaining that environment. Schools should be proactive in creating a school culture that respects and values all students and fosters understanding of gender identity within the school community. These practices are intended to help school and district administrators take steps to create a culture in which transgender and gender nonconforming students feel safe, supported, and fully included, and to meet each school’s obligation to provide equal educational opportunities for all students. These practices are intended to help schools ensure a safe learning environment free of discrimination and harassment, and to promote the educational and social integration of transgender students. These procedures do not anticipate every situation that may occur and the needs of each student must be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Every student and school is unique and building administrators should discuss these issues with students and their families and draw on the experiences and expertise of their colleagues as well as external resources where appropriate.


Dear DC Public Schools Community, We are excited to be working to ensure all DCPS students, including transgender and gender-­‐nonconforming students, reach their fullest potential by creating safe and supportive environments in our schools. This is a key component of our five-­year strategic plan, “A Capital Commitment.” A Capital Commitment is a roadmap for building a high-­‐quality, vibrant school district that provides all DCPS students a world-­‐class education. The plan identifies the following five goals that are key to our success:

1. Improving achievement rates; 2. Investing in struggling schools; 3. Increasing the graduation rate; 4. Improving satisfaction; and 5. Increasing enrollment. Within DCPS, the Office of Youth Engagement (OYE) strives to build the capacity of school communities to coordinate student supports and ensure that students are healthy, present and positive members of a safe learning community. In support of the Capital Commitment goals, OYE acknowledges that it is responsible for promoting safe and welcoming schools for all students, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression. Supporting the OYE mission and the Capital Commitment goals can only be achieved by promoting equitable treatment for all students, including transgender and gender-­‐nonconforming students, and ensuring that they have the same protections and resources as their peers.

The DCPS Transgender and Gender-­‐Nonconforming Policy Guidance is intended to be a tool for schools, parents and students to effectively navigate existing laws, regulations and policies that support transgender or gender-­‐nonconforming DCPS students. It provides guidance to ensure that all students are treated equitably and with dignity at school. Resources include the following:

• Direction to schools on meeting our federal/district obligations to ensure equitable treatment of transgender/gender-­‐nonconforming students

• Insight for families, students, and school staff who may have questions; and

• Templates, tools, and resources for administrators, school staff, families, and students.

We also know that we can best support students by supporting the adults in their lives, so we’ve included direction schools to ensure staff and community members also receive equitable treatment. We hope you will find the information helpful. For further assistance, please contact the Office of Youth Engagement at (202) 442-­‐5103 or dcps.lgbtq@dc.gov.

Kaya Henderson

Definition of Terms

 

How should a school district, teacher, school administrator or other employee define gender, transgender, or gender identity? There are a number of developing terms used to describe transgender characteristics and experiences, which may differ based on region, age, culture, or other factors. Many of these terms are not currently defined by law. However, several common definitions have been used by the courts, the U.S. Department of Education, and a number of groups with educational equity expertise, including the Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Education Network, and the California School Boards Association. Any definitions provided in these materials are provided to facilitate the process of providing safe and nondiscriminatory learning environments and are not provided for the purpose of labeling any students.

  • "Gender" means sex, and includes a person's gender identity and gender expression.
  • "Gender expression" means a person's gender-related appearance and behavior whether or not stereotypically associated with the person's assigned sex at birth. (Education Code Section 210.7.)
  • “Gender identity” refers to a person’s gender related identity, appearance or behavior whether or not different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth.
  • “Gender expression” refers to external cues that one uses to represent or communicate one’s gender to others, such as behavior, clothing, hairstyles, activities, voice, mannerisms, or body characteristics.
  • “Transgender” describes people whose gender identity is different from that traditionally associated with their assigned sex at birth.
  • “Transgender boy” and “transgender male” refer to an individual assigned the female sex at birth who has a male gender identity.
  • “Transgender girl” and “transgender female” refer to an individual assigned the male sex at birth who has a female gender identity. An individual can express or assert a transgender gender identity in a variety of ways, which may but do not always include specific medical treatments or procedures. Medical treatments or procedures are not considered a prerequisite for one’s recognition as transgender.
  • “Gender nonconformity” refers to one’s gender expression, gender characteristics, or gender identity that does not conform to gender stereotypes “typically” associated with one’s legal sex assigned at birth, such as “feminine” boys, “masculine” girls and those who are perceived as androgynous.
  • "Sexual orientation" is not the same as gender identity. Not all transgender youth identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, and not all gay, lesbian and bisexual youth display gender-nonconforming characteristics.

“Gender identity” means an innate sense of one’s own gender.


Question: What does “gender identity or expression” mean? 
Answer: The act defines “gender identity or expression” as a person's gender-related identity, appearance, or behavior, whether or not that identity, appearance, or behavior differs from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth. The definition specifies that gender-related identity can be shown by providing evidence in various ways, including (1) medical history, (2) care or treatment of the gender-related identity, (3) consistent and uniform assertion of such an identity, or (4) any other evidence that the identity is sincerely held, part of a person's core identity, or that the person is not asserting such an identity for an improper purpose. Although the law includes these as examples, they need not be shown in every case and are an illustrative list, not an exclusive one. In addition, the list suggests ways that a person’s gender-related identity “can be” shown, not that it must be. The law includes no examples of how a gender-related appearance or behavior may be shown. (See Conn. Gen. Stat. §46a-51(21), as amended by Public Act 11-55.)


  • “Assigned sex at birth” means the sex designation, usually “male” or “female,” assigned to a person when the person is born.
  • “Gender” means a set of social, psychological, and emotional traits, influenced by a society’s expectations that classify an individual as feminine, masculine, or other.
  • “Gender expression” means the manner in which a person represents or expresses gender to others, often through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, activities, voice, or mannerisms.
  • “Gender identity” means a person’s internal, deeply-felt sense of being male, female, or other, whether or not that gender-related identity is different from the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth. Everyone has a gender identity.
  • “Gender nonconforming” means displaying a gender or gender expression that differs from those typically associated with one’s assigned sex at birth. A person’s gender expression may differ from stereotypical expectations about how females and males are “supposed to” look or act. Gender nonconforming is not synonymous with transgender; not all gender nonconforming students identify as transgender.
  • “Sex” means the chromosomal, hormonal, and anatomical characteristics that are used to classify an individual as male or female.
  • “Transgender” means a person whose gender identity differs from their assigned sex at birth. “Transgender” is not the same as “gay”.
  • “Transition” means the process by which a transgender person starts living as the gender the person identifies as and often includes a change in style of dress, selection of a new name, a request that people use the correct pronoun, and possibly hormone therapy and surgery.

  • “Sexual orientation” is defined in the MHRA to mean a person’s actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality or gender identity or expression. The terms heterosexuality, bisexuality, and homosexuality should not be considered exclusive, however, and the statute should be interpreted to cover all orientations (including, for example, those who identify as asexual).
  • “Gender identity” means an individual’s sincerely held core belief regarding their gender, whether that individual identifies as male, female, a blend of both, neither, or in some other way (such as, for example, students who identify as “queer”, “genderqueer”, “bi-gender”, “intersex” or “gender fluid”).
  • “Gender expression” means an individual’s external expression of their gender identity, through such means as clothing, hair styling, jewelry, voice, and behavior.
  • “Transgender” is used as an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or expression is different from cultural expectations based on the sex/gender they were assigned at birth. Being transgender does not imply any specific sexual orientation.

Discussion regarding the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming students is best held when there is mutual understanding of key concepts and a shared vocabulary. The key concepts and vocabulary used in this document include:

  • Sex - the genetic and anatomical characteristics with which people are born, typically labeled male or female.
  • Gender – the attitudes, feelings, and behaviors that a given culture associates with a person’s biological sex.
  • Gender Identity- A person’s deeply held internalized sense or psychological knowledge of their gender regardless of the biological sex they were assigned at birth.
  • Cisgender- Students whose sex assigned at birth correspond to their gender identity
  • Transgender- Students whose internalized knowledge and sense of who they are as either male or female does not match their sex assigned at birth.
  • Gender Expression - The manner in which a student represents or expresses gender to others, often through manner of speech and word choices, manner of dress and hairstyle, the wearing (or not wearing) of cosmetics, and other distinctive cultural markers of gender.
  • Gender Non-Conforming- An umbrella term for students whose gender expression differs from stereotypical expectations of the sex they were assigned at birth. Students who do not identify with either traditional gender categories or identify as both genders are often called gender non-conforming, gender diverse, or gender expansive.
  • Transition- The process through which transgender people begin to live as the gender with which they identify, rather than the one typically associated with their sex assigned at birth. Transitions may include any combination of physical social and medical processes.
  • Social transition may include changing names, pronouns, hairstyle, and clothing.
  • Medical transition may include medical components like hormone therapy and gender affirming surgeries. Not all transgender individuals seek medical care as part of their transition, especially minors.

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.

A number of terms are used in this document that may not be commonly known. A short list of definitions is included in the endnotes to facilitate a shared understanding. It is not an all inclusive list.

  • Biological sex assigned at birth—a person’s biological sex is a combination of bodily characteristics, including chromosomes, hormones, internal and external genitalia, and secondary sex characteristics. At birth, infants are assigned a sex, usually male or female, based solely on the appearance of their external anatomy.
  • Gender identity—a person’s deeply-held internal sense or psychological knowledge of their own gender, regardless of the biological sex they were assigned at birth. Safe and Supportive Learning Environments for LGBTQ Students
  • Gender expression—the manner in which a person represents or expresses gender to others, often through one’s name, pronouns, behavior, clothing, haircut, activities, voice, mannerisms, and other distinctive cultural markers of gender.
  • Transgender—an adjective describing a person whose gender identity or expression is different from their biological sex assigned at birth.
  • Gender nonconforming (GNC)—an umbrella term for people whose gender expression differs from stereotypical expectations of the biological sex they were assigned at birth. GNC people may identify as girls, boys, neither girls nor boys, or some other gender.
  • Gender transition—the process in which transgender people begin asserting the sex that corresponds to their gender identity instead of the sex they were assigned at birth. During gender transition, people begin to live and identify as the sex consistent with their gender identity and may dress differently, adopt a new name, and use pronouns consistent with their gender identity. Transition may or may not also include medical and legal aspects, including taking hormones, having surgery, or changing identity documents (e.g. driver’s license, social security record) to reflect one’s gender identity. Gender transition can happen swiftly or over a long duration of time. Not all transgender or GNC people transition or desire to transition in the same way.
  • Sexual orientation—a person’s emotional, romantic, and/or sexual attraction to other people. Sexual orientation is not the same as gender identity.
  • Questioning—a person’s process of exploring and discovering their own sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

Gender identity, assigned sex and sexual orientation are separate identity characteristics according to the American Psychological Association and National Association of School Psychologists. Any student, including transgender and gender nonconforming students, may be heterosexual, gay, lesbian or bisexual. Gender identity does not correlate with sexual orientation. Understanding the terminology associated with gender identity is important to providing a safe and supportive school environment for students. The following terms and definitions are included in this toolkit to assist school leaders and staff in understanding the information presented in this resource:

  • Gender identity – an individual’s innate sense of one’s own gender; a deeply held sense of psychological knowledge of one’s own gender, regardless of the gender assigned at birth.
  • Gender expression – the external appearance, characteristics or behaviors typically associated with a specific gender.
  • Gender nonconforming – people whose gender expression differs from stereotypical expectations, such as “feminine” boys, “masculine” girls, and those who are perceived as androgynous or gender nonbinary.
  • Sexual orientation – refers to the sex of those to whom one is sexually and romantically attracted. Categories of sexual orientation typically have included attraction to members of one's own sex, attraction to members of the other sex (heterosexual) and attraction to members of both sexes (bisexual).
  • Transgender – an umbrella term for people whose gender identity, gender expression or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth.

Understanding the common terminology associated with gender identity is important to providing a safe and supportive school environment for students. The following terms appear in this document and we present the following definitions used by research, advocacy and governmental organizations 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. Terminology and language describing transgender and GNC individuals can differ based on region, language, race or ethnicity, age, culture, and many other factors. Generally speaking, we recommend that school staff and educators inquire which terms students prefer; a good general guideline is to employ those terms which the students use to describe themselves.

  • Assigned Sex at Birth: the sex designation, usually “male” or “female,” assigned to a person when they are born.
  • Cisgender: an adjective describing a person whose gender identity corresponds to their assigned sex at birth.
  • 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 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. Everyone has a gender identity.
  • Gender nonconforming (GNC): a term used to describe people whose gender expression differs from stereotypic expectations. The terms “gender variant” or “gender atypical” are also used. Gender nonconforming individuals may identify as male, female, some combination of both, or neither.
  • Sexual Orientation: a person’s emotional and sexual attraction to other people based on the gender of the other person. Sexual orientation is not the same as gender identity. Not all transgender youth identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, and not all gay, lesbian and bisexual youth display gender-nonconforming characteristics.
  • Transgender: an adjective describing a person whose gender identity does not correspond to their assigned sex at birth.
  • Transition: the process by which a person socially and/or physically aligns their gender expression more closely to their actual gender identity and away from that associated with their assigned sex at birth.

Understanding the common terminology associated with gender identity is important to providing a safe and supportive school environment for students. The following definitions used by research, advocacy and governmental organizations are provided to assist in understanding the guidance presented. Although these are the most commonly used terms, students may use other terms to describe their gender identity, appearance, or expression. Terminology and language describing transgender and gender nonconforming individuals can differ based on region, language, race or ethnicity, age, culture, and many other factors. It is recommended that school staff and educators inquire about which terms a student uses to describe themselves and their experience. A good general guideline is to employ those terms which the student uses to describe themselves.

  • Assigned sex – Sex recorded at birth, usually on the basis of external genitalia.
  • Cisgender- A term used to describe people who, for the most part, identify with the sex they were assigned at birth.
  • Gender binary – The assumption that there are only two genders (male and female), rather than more than two genders or gender fluidity.
  • Gender expression - How people express their gender externally based on mannerisms, dress, etc. A person's gender expression/presentation may not always match their gender identity.
  • Gender identity - A person's internal sense of being male, female or some other gender, regardless of whether the individual's appearance, expression or behavior differs from that traditionally associated with the individual's sex assigned at birth. Gender identity is distinct from and often unrelated to an individual’s sexual orientation.
  • Gender role - The socially determined sets of behaviors assigned to people based on their biological sex.
  • Gender sensitive - Materials and instruction strategies that is sensitive to individual’s similarities and differences regarding gender role, gender identity and/or sexual orientation.
  • Genderqueer – A person whose gender identity cannot be categorized as solely male or female. The term is not a synonym for transgender and should only be used if someone self-identifies as genderqueer.
  • Intersex – An umbrella term used for people born with reproductive or sexual anatomy and/or chromosome pattern that does not seem to fit the typical definition of male or female. Intersex may also be known as Difference of Sex Development and may not always be known at birth, but may be revealed at any stage of a person’s life.
  • Sexual orientation – Means a person’s physical, romantic, emotional, aesthetic, or other form of attraction to others. Sexual orientation and gender identity are not the same. Although, the Oregon Legislature adopted a broader definition of “sexual orientation” for purposes of all Oregon statutes to “mean an individual’s actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or gender identity, regardless of whether the individual’s gender identity, appearance, expression or behavior differs from that traditionally associated with the individual’s sex at birth.”
  • Transgender – An umbrella term for persons whose gender identity, gender expression, or behavior does not conform to that typically associated with the sex to which they were assigned at birth. Persons who identify as transgender may or may not pursue medical transition.
  • Transgender female -This is a person whose assigned sex at birth is male but identifies and lives as a female.
  • Transgender male - This is a person whose assigned sex at birth is female but identifies and lives as a male.
  • Transition - The time when a person begins living as the gender with which they identify rather than the gender they were assigned at birth, which often includes changing one’s first name and dressing and grooming differently. Transition may or may not also include medical and legal aspects, including taking hormones, having surgery, or changing identity documents (e.g. driver’s license, Social Security record) to reflect one’s gender identity.
  • Transsexual – An outmoded term that refers to a person who has permanently changed - or seeks to change - their bodies through medical interventions (including but not limited to hormones and/or surgeries). Unlike transgender, transsexual is not an umbrella or popular term. Many transgender people do not identify as transsexual and prefer the word transgender. It is best to use transgender instead unless the individual uses this term to describe themselves.

The following terms appear in this document and are defined to assist in understanding the guidance presented.

  • Assigned Sex at Birth: the assignment and classification of people as male, female or intersex or another sex assigned at birth based on physical anatomy at birth and or karyotyping.
  • Biological Sex: the biological state of having: 1) female or male genitalia; 2) female or male chromosomes and 3) female or male hormones. It is estimated that one in 2,000 babies is born with the biological characteristics of both sexes or of neither sex entirely.
  • Bullying: means the use by one or more students of a written, verbal or electronic expression, or a physical act or gesture or any combination thereof directed at a student that causes physical or emotional harm to the student or damage to the student's property; places the student in reasonable fear of harm to himself/herself or of damage to his/her property; creates an intimidating, threatening, hostile, or abusive educational environment for the student; infringes on the rights of the student to participate in school activities; or materially and substantially disrupts the education process or the orderly operation of a school.
  • Gender: social and cultural expression of sex, not biological sex
  • 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 his or her own gender. One’s gender identity can be the same or different than the gender assigned at birth. Most people have a gender identity that matches their assigned gender at birth. For some, however, their gender identity is different from their assigned gender. All people have a gender identity, not just transgender people. Gender identity is an innate, largely inflexible characteristic of each individual’s personality that is generally established at a very early age, although the age at which individuals come to understand and express their gender identity may vary.
  • Gender Non-conforming: a term used to describe people whose gender expression differs from stereotypic expectations. This includes people who identify outside traditional gender categories or identify as both genders. Other terms that can have similar meanings include gender variant, gender expansive, or gender atypical.
  • Sexual Orientation: A person’s romantic or sexual attraction to people of the same or opposite sex or multiple sexes. Some common sexual orientations are straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, pansexual, queer, etc. A transgender or gender non-conforming person can have any sexual orientation.
  • Transgender: an umbrella term used to describe a person whose gender identity or gender expression is different from that traditionally associated with their assigned sex at birth.
  • 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.

  •  “Cisgender” refers to a person whose gender identity corresponds to their assigned sex at birth.
  • “Gender Identity” means an individual’s actual or perceived gender identity, or genderrelated characteristics intrinsically related to an individual’s gender or gender-identity, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth.
  • “Gender expression” refers to the way a person expresses gender to others in ways that are socially defined as either masculine or feminine, such as through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, activities, voice, mannerisms or body characteristics.
  • “Gender nonconforming” or “gender creative” people are those whose gender-related identity and/or gender expression do not conform to the social expectations or norms for a person of that sex assigned at birth. Other terms that can have similar meanings include gender variant, gender expansive, gender fluid, or gender atypical.
  • “Gender stereotypes” refers to stereotypical notions of masculinity and femininity, including expectations of how boys or girls represent or communicate one’s gender to others, such as behavior, clothing, hairstyles, activities, voice, mannerisms, or body characteristics.
  • “Transgender” is a term which describes an individual whose gender identity or gender expression is different from the individual’s assigned sex at birth.
  • “Gender transition” refers to the experience by which a transgender person goes from living and identifying as one’s assigned sex to living and identifying as the sex consistent with one’s gender identity. A gender transition often includes a “social transition,” during which an individual begins to live and identify as the sex consistent with the individual’s gender identity, with or without medical treatments or procedures. [“Transition” refers to the process by which a person socially and/or physically aligns their gender expression more closely to their gender identity and away from that associated with their assigned sex at birth.]
  •  “Sexual Orientation” refers to a person’s emotional and sexual attraction to other people based on the gender of the other person. Sexual orientation is not the same as gender identity. Not all transgender students identify as gay, lesbian or bisexual, and not all gay, lesbian and bisexual students display gender nonconforming characteristics.5

People use many different words to describe their gendered experiences. Terminology can differ based on region, language, age, culture, and other factors. Here are some commonly used terms:

  • Gender Expression describes the ways in which a person expresses their gender. Behavior, emotions, mannerisms, dress, grooming habits, interests, and activities are some of the ways people express gender.
  • Gender Identity refers to a deeply felt internal sense of being female, or male, or both, or neither—regardless of their gender assigned at birth.
  • Gender Non-conforming describes a person whose gender expression differs from stereotypical expectations about how they should look or act based on the gender they were assigned at birth. People who identify outside traditional gender categories or identify as both genders or as gender neutral are examples of gender non-conforming.
  • Biological Sex/Sex refers to a person’s internal and external anatomy, chromosomes, and hormones.
  • Transgender is a general term often used to describe a person whose gender identity or expression, or both, are different from those traditionally associated with their gender assigned at birth.
  • Transitioning refers to the process in which a person goes from living and identifying as one gender to living and identifying as another.

These definitions are intended to assist in understanding this policy guidance and the legal obligations of DCPS staff. Students may or may not use these terms to describe themselves. Additional definitions can be found in Appendix II.

  • Cisgender: Refers to people whose sex assignment at birth corresponds to their gender identity and expression (Cis-­‐ from Latin meaning "on the same side [as]" or "on this side [of]").
  • 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 internal sense or psychological knowledge of their own gender, regardless of the biological sex they were assigned at birth. Everyone has a gender identity.
  • Gender-­‐nonconforming: An umbrella term that will be used throughout this guidance for people whose gender expression differs from stereotypical expectations of the sex they were assigned at birth
  • LGBTQ: An acronym for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Questioning community.
  • Queer: Deemed an offensive term historically and still by some people today, queer has been reclaimed by many members of the LGBT community as a term of empowerment. The term can have different meanings to different people, but in this context it generally refers to a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender community. This term may be used by a member of the LGBT community, who may not identify themselves by any of the other letters in that acronym. Since this term has a negative history, it should only be used to describe those individuals who identify themselves as queer and give permission for others to use that term to describe them.
  • Transgender: An umbrella term describing a person whose gender identity or expression is different from that traditionally associated with their assigned sex at birth.
  • Preferred Gender Pronouns: The pronoun a person prefers to have used when referred to in conversation (i.e., a person with a traditionally male gender identity likely prefers he, him, and his). Please note that young people may choose to go by they, ze, or no pronouns.
  • Transition: The process in which a person goes from living and identifying as one gender to living and identifying as another. Transitions are not linear and may include any combination of physical, social and medical processes. Not all transgender or gender-­‐nonconforming people transition or desire to transition in the same way. And most importantly, transitions are private and personal information about a transition should not be discussed unless conversation is initiated and led by the transgender or gender-­‐nonconforming student.

Names and Pronouns

 

If a student so chooses, district personnel shall be required to address the student by a name and the pronouns consistent with the student’s gender identity, without the necessity of legal documentation or a change to the student’s official district record. The student’s age is not a factor. For example, children as early as age two are expressing a different gender identity. It is strongly suggested that teachers privately ask transgender or gender nonconforming students at the beginning of the school year how they want to be addressed in class, in correspondence to the home, or at conferences with the student’s parents.

In addition to preserving a transgender student’s privacy, referring to a transgender student by the student’s chosen name and pronouns fosters a safe, supportive and inclusive learning environment. To ensure that transgender students have equal access to the programs and activities provided by the school, all members of the school community must use a transgender student’s chosen name and pronouns. Schools should also implement safeguards to reduce the possibility of inadvertent slips or mistakes, particularly among temporary personnel such as substitute teachers.

f a member of the school community intentionally uses a student’s incorrect name and pronoun, or persistently refuses to respect a student’s chosen name and pronouns, that conduct should be treated as harassment. That type of harassment can create a hostile learning environment, violate the transgender student’s privacy rights, and increase that student’s risk for harassment by other members of the school community. Examples of this type of harassment include a teacher consistently using the student’s incorrect name when displaying the student’s work in the classroom, or a transgender student’s peers referring to the student by the student’s birth name during class, but would not include unintentional or sporadic occurrences. Depending on the circumstances, the school’s failure to address known incidents of that type of harassment may violate California’s antidiscrimination laws.


All schools are to accurately indicate the student’s chosen name, as affirmed by the parents or legal guardian, on all records. If the student has previously been known by his/her birth name, the parents may request that the student record be amended to reflect the student’s chosen name. The school should promptly train all teachers, staff, and school administrators to use the student’s chosen name. In all instances, where a student is using a chosen name, the birth name is considered private information and is not to be disclosed. Some transgender children may have a legal change of name; however, not all will. The student’s chosen name, where confirmed by parents or a legal guardian, is to be used regardless of whether or not the student has completed a legal name change.

School personnel should use the name and pronouns appropriate to the student’s gender identity regardless of the student’s assigned birth sex. Continued intentional misuse of the student’s name and pronouns, and reference to the student’s former gender by school personnel or peers may undermine the student’s therapeutic treatment and potentially deny the student an equal educational opportunity, and is contrary to the goal of treating all students with dignity and respect. Such misuse may also breach the student’s privacy, and may create a risk of physical and psychological harm to the student. It is strongly suggested that teachers privately ask transgender or gender nonconforming students at the beginning of the school year how they want to be addressed in class, in correspondence to the home or at conferences with the student’s parents.

In cases where students and parents may be in disagreement about the name and pronoun to be used at school, school officials may refer families to appropriate outside counseling services.


Transgender students have the right to be addressed by a name and pronouns that correspond to their sincerely held gender identities. If requested by the students, staff should address them by the name and pronouns that correspond to each of their sincerely held gender identities. Transgender students are not required to obtain a legal name or gender change or to change their official records. This does not prohibit inadvertent slips or honest mistakes, but does apply to intentional or persistent refusal to respect a student’s gender identity, which should be considered an act of discrimination.

Teachers and other school staff should be informed of the student’s preferred name on student rosters and of the preferred pronouns to use when addressing the student. When the DOE’s student information system (e.g., SIS) accommodates a “preferred name,” the student’s preferred name should be noted. Teachers and other school staff should take care to ensure that a transgender student’s legal name, if different from the student’s preferred name, is kept confidential.


The preference for the use of masculine, feminine or gender-neutral pronouns should be the choice of the student. A legal name change is not required for a student to use the preferred name for class lists, student activities, yearbook publications, etc. However, a student’s legal name must be indicated in the student’s official records. The district may list the student’s preferred name in the official records by listing it next to the student’s legal name with asterisks next to it until a legal name change is made.


If a student so chooses, the educational institution’s employees should be required to address the student by the student’s chosen name and use pronouns consistent with the student’s gender identity. The educational institution should also, at the request of any student, instruct its students to address the student by the student’s chosen name and use pronouns consistent with the student’s gender identity. Inadvertent slips and honest mistakes will not be considered a violation of the Act, but a pattern of refusal to acknowledge a student’s gender identity by using their chosen name and pronouns may be considered to constitute such a violation.


Address every student by a name and pronoun that corresponds to the student’s gender identity. Privately ask students how they want to be addressed in class and whether this will be different when in correspondence to the home or at conferences with the student’s parents or guardians. Train all teachers, staff, and school administrators to use the student’s preferred name, pronouns and gender.  Use the student’s preferred name for classroom rosters, identification badges, announcements, certificates, newspapers, newsletters, yearbooks and any other record where the use of the legal name is not specifically required by law.


The issue of the name and pronoun to use in referring to a transgender student is one of the first that schools must resolve to create an environment in which that student feels safe and supported. Transgender students often choose to change the name assigned to them at birth to a name that is associated with their gender identity. As with most other issues involved with creating a safe and supportive environment for transgender students, the best course is to engage the student, and in the case of a younger student, the parent, with respect to name and pronoun use, and agree on a plan to initiate that name and pronoun use within the school. The plan also could include when and how this is communicated to students and their parents. In the case of a transgender student who is enrolling at a new school, it is important that the school respect the student’s privacy (see the following section) and chosen name

In sum, school personnel should use the student’s chosen name and pronouns appropriate to a student’s gender identity, regardless of the student’s assigned birth sex. For those students who have been attending a school and undergo gender transition while attending the same school, it is important to develop a plan for initiating use of the chosen name and pronouns consistent with the student’s gender identity.


When requested by the parent/guardian and/or student, school staff should engage in reasonable and good faith efforts to address students by their chosen name and pronouns that correspond to their gender identity, regardless of whether there has been a legal name change. Upon request, the chosen name and gender should be included in the district’s information management systems, in addition to the student’s legal name. District-generated student email addresses should also reflect the student’s chosen name, if first names are identifiable in such addresses. These changes inform all staff, including substitute teachers, of the name and pronoun to use when addressing the student, and help avoid inadvertent disclosures.


Schools should not assume a student’s name or pronoun. School officials should ask the student and use the requested name and pronouns. Students need not provide schools with legal documents to correct their first name or gender within their student records. When students are referred to by the wrong pronoun by peers or school staff, students may feel intimidated, threatened, harassed or bullied. School staff can ensure a more respectful environment for all students when efforts are made to correct the misuse of pronouns, as well as names, in student records.

Teachers can support inclusion of all students, including transgender and gender-nonconforming students, by embracing simple classroom practices that allow for all students to participate in accordance with their gender identity. Classroom practices that recognize and affirm all students, including transgender and gendernonconforming students, are varied and can include how the teacher addresses the classroom and how the teacher separates students into groups. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of students. Schools should note that neither a student’s gender nor pronouns are considered public or directory information. Casual use of a student’s incorrect pronoun or incorrect name may violate FERPA. FERPA also permits families to elect not to disclose directory information about their student.

1. Because schools have multiple student record systems, schools should inventory all of their student record systems to ensure that they have implemented a systemic process that ensures that the names of students are consistently used as they wish to be identified. Schools should consider adding a customized data field for pronouns in their student record system. Schools should ensure that information for the student is properly recorded within the Minnesota Automated Reporting Student System (MARSS). If you have questions or need assistance with this, contact Minnesota Department of Education staff, (marss@state.mn.us).

2. A school administrator or designee should meet with the student and family to discuss how the student’s name and gender will be communicated to peers and the school community. School principals should consider periodically reminding all staff personnel to consistently use the requested name and pronouns of students.

3. Teachers could address students as “students” and “scholars” to be inclusive as opposed to “boys and girls.” You can learn more about what schools are doing to make transgender students comfortable in the Gender Spectrum et al., 2015, Schools in Transition – A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools.


The matter of determining which name and pronoun to use in referring to a transgender student may be one of the first that schools must address in their efforts to create an environment in which that student feels safe and supported. Transgender students often choose to change the name assigned to them at birth to a name that is associated with their gender identity. As with most other issues involved with creating a safe and supportive environment for transgender students, the best course is to engage the student, and possibly the parent, with respect to name and pronoun use, and agree on a plan to reflect the individual needs of each student to initiate that name and pronoun use within the school. The plan also could include when and how this is communicated to students and their parents.

For those students who have been attending a school and undergo gender transition while attending the same school, it is important to develop a plan for initiating use of the chosen name and pronouns consistent with the student’s gender identity.


Transgender students often choose to change the name assigned to them at birth to a name that affirms their gender identity. As with most other issues involved with creating a safe and supportive environment for transgender students, the best course is to engage the student, and possibly the parents, with respect to name and pronoun use. The school district should decide with the student and parents the best plan to reflect the individual student’s needs when initiating name and pronoun use.

There are no state laws which either require or prescribe requirements for school district issued student IDs. However, if your school district has chosen to issue student IDs, it is recommended that student IDs be issued in the name reflecting the student’s gender identity consistently asserted at school. This may require issuing the student a new ID card. For those students who have been attending a school and undergo gender transition while attending the same school, school districts in consultation with the student and parents should develop a plan for initiating use of the chosen name and pronouns consistent with the student’s gender identity.


Transgender students often choose to change the name assigned to them at birth to a name that is associated with their gender identity. If the student has changed their name though legal means, then official school records can reflect the change. However, if the student requests to be addressed by another name without evidence of a legal name change, this is referred to as their preferred name. The school, student and family (if they are involved) should be engaged and develop a plan for using the preferred name and pronoun within the school. The plan could include when and how this is communicated to staff, to students and the parents of other students. In the case of a transgender student who is enrolling at a new school, it is important that the school respect the student’s privacy and preferred name. In the case of a preferred name change, the official record in the school is not changed but the preferred name will be noted therein.


Students should be addressed by school staff by the name and pronoun corresponding to their gender identity. Students are not required to obtain a court ordered name and/or gender change or to change their pupil personnel records as a prerequisite to being addressed by the name and pronoun that corresponds to their gender identity. To the extent possible and consistent with these guidelines, school personnel should make efforts to maintain the confidentiality of the student’s transgender status. For those students who undergo gender transition while attending the same school, it is important to develop a plan for initiating use of the preferred name and pronouns consistent with the student’s gender identity. The plan can also include when and how this is communicated to students and their parents, staff and other individuals within the school community (i.e., substitute teachers, bus drivers, athletic coaches, etc.)

Within the school or school district when a transgender or gender nonconforming student new to a school is using a chosen/preferred name and gender identity, their birth name and assigned sex should be kept confidential by school and district staff. If a student has previously been known at school or in school records by his or her birth name, the school administrator should direct school personnel to use the student’s chosen/preferred name and not the student’s birth name. To ensure consistency among teachers, school administrators, substitute teachers and other staff, every effort should be made to immediately update student education records (for

Best Practices for School Regarding Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students (Revised: February 23, 2017) Page 5 of 9 example, attendance records, report cards, Individualized Education Programs, etc.) with the student’s chosen/preferred name and appropriate gender markers and not circulate records with the student’s birth name and assigned sex. Student IDs should be issued in the name that reflects a student’s gender identity.


Students have the right to be addressed by their preferred name and personal pronouns—he and him, or she and her—while at school. Schools should not require a legal name change for staff to use the student’s preferred name during class, on seating charts, during roll call, on tests and assignments, and on other school records.


Students have the right to be addressed by the name and pronoun that correspond to the student’s gender identity. A court-­‐ordered name or gender change is not required, and the student does not need to change their official records.

Generally, if a student wishes for their name to be changed at school, despite whether or not a student has brought in a legal name change, all unofficial records should reflect their preferred name. Examples of unofficial school documents include yearbooks, team and class rosters, and newspapers/newsletters.

Restrooms and Facilities

 

A school may maintain separate restroom and locker room facilities for male and female students. However, students shall have access to the restroom and locker room that corresponds to their gender identity asserted at school. As an alternative, a “gender neutral” restroom or private changing area may be used by any student who desires increased privacy, regardless of the underlying reason. The use of such a “gender neutral” restroom or private changing area shall be a matter of choice for a student and no student shall be compelled to use such restroom or changing area.

If there is a reason or request for increased privacy and safety, regardless of the underlying reason, any student may be provided access to a reasonable alternative locker room such as: a. Use of a private area in the public area of the locker room facility (i.e., a nearby restroom stall with a door, an area separated by a curtain, or a P.E. instructor’s office in the locker room). b. A separate changing schedule (either utilizing the locker room before or after the other students). c. Use of a nearby private area (i.e., a nearby restroom or a health office restroom).

It should be emphasized that any alternative arrangement should be provided in a way that keeps the student’s gender identity confidential. Schools cannot, however, require a transgender student to use those alternatives. Requiring a transgender student to be singled out by using separate facilities is not only a denial of equal access, it also may violate the student’s right to privacy by disclosing the student’s transgender status or causing others to question why the student is being treated differently.

Some students (or parents) may feel uncomfortable with a transgender student using the same sex-segregated restroom or locker room. This discomfort is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student. School administrators and counseling staff should work with students and parents to address the discomfort and to foster understanding of gender identity, to create a school culture that respects and values all students.


All [public] covered entities shall allow individuals the proper use of gender-segregated facilities that are consistent with their gender identity. Gender-segregated facilities include but are not limited to, restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms and dormitories.


Students should have access to the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity asserted at school. Schools may maintain separate restroom facilities for male and female students provided that they allow students to access them based on their gender identity and not exclusively based on student’s assigned birth sex. If the student and administrator feel that there is a reason or desire for increased privacy and safety, regardless of the underlying purpose or cause, any student may be provided access to a reasonable alternative restroom such as a single stall “unisex” restroom or the health office restroom. In all instances, decisions about alternative restroom use should be governed by the school administrator’s judgment concerning the safety and best interests of the student in question.14 Under no circumstances may a student be required to use a restroom facility that is inconsistent with that student’s asserted gender identity.


Schools may maintain separate restroom facilities for male and female students. Students should have access to restrooms that correspond to their sincerely held gender identity. When a transgender student’s support includes access to a restroom that corresponds with their sincerely held gender identity, there may need to be accommodations made for other students. In this case, if any student, whether transgender or not, desires increased privacy, or feels uncomfortable, schools should make every effort to provide the student with reasonable access to an alternative restroom (e.g., single-stall restroom or the health office restroom). A transgender student should determine which restroom to use. A transgender student should not be compelled to use an alternative

In this instance, it may not be necessary to do anything. This student appears to be gender nonconforming and may or may not identify as transgender. Page 7 restroom. Schools may take steps to designate single stall “gender-neutral” restrooms on their campus.


All students should have access to locker room, bathroom, and shower facilities that are safe, comfortable, and convenient. Absent a concern for safety, schools should permit a student to use the restrooms or locker rooms for which they identify with. If private or separate facilities are requested by any transgendered or non-transgendered student, the student should be provided with those facilities. Remember, a student cannot be forced to use a restroom for which they do not identify.


Students must be permitted to use the toilet, locker room, and shower facilities corresponding to their gender identity. Facilities such as a curtained changing area or unisex facilities may be provided and made available to all students, but should not be used to isolate or segregate students based on their sexual orientation, gender expression, or gender identity. Students shall not be required to use facilities corresponding to their assigned birth sex/gender, where their assigned birth sex/gender and their gender identity are different.

If the educational institution offers housing in which students are separated or assigned by gender, students should be permitted to reside in the housing facilities corresponding to their gender identity.


Perhaps the most difficult and sensitive issue school administrations will face is the use of bathrooms and locker rooms. Respect for the privacy and comfort-level of each student can guide the decision-making process. For example, a transgender student may not feel comfortable in a sex-specific bathroom or locker room. Likewise, a cisgender student may not feel comfortable using a bathroom or locker room with a transgender student. Having a gender neutral, single stall bathroom available to those students respects the privacy and comfort-level of each of them. Not every school building has such a bathroom generally available, but it may be that the nurse’s office can be open for this purpose.

There are several cases that have found it discriminatory to mandate that a transgender student use a particular bathroom or locker room. See, e.g., Doe v. Clenchy, No. 09-201 (Me. Super. Ct. April 11, 2011; Mathis v. Fountail-Fort Carson School District #8, No. P20130034X (Colorado Division of Civil Rights. June 17, 2013). But, there are cases that find to the contrary. Johnston v. University of Pittsburgh, 2015 WL 1497753 (W.D.Pa., March 31, 2015); GG v. Glouscester County School Board, Civil No. 4:15cv54L (E.D.Va., Sept. 17, 2015). The law has not yet settled on this issue.

Provide access to the restroom that corresponds to the student’s gender identity. Designate any available single stall restroom with a locking door as a unisex/gender neutral restroom and as available to all students. If a single stall student restroom is not generally available, designate a private restroom such as one in the health suites for any student who requests increased privacy and safety, for any reason. This accommodation may be offered to all students. Permit transgender and gender non-conforming students whose gender identity is not exclusively male or female to use facilities they believe are the most consistent with their safety and gender identity.


All students are entitled to have access to restrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities that are sanitary, safe, and adequate, so they can comfortably and fully engage in their school program and activities. In meeting with the transgender student (and parent) to discuss the issues set forth in this memorandum, it is essential that the principal and student address the student’s access to the restrooms, locker room and changing facility. Each situation needs to be reviewed and addressed based on the particular circumstances of the student and the school facilities. In all cases, the principal should be clear with the student (and parent) that the student may access the restroom, locker room, and changing facility that corresponds to the student’s gender identity. While some transgender students will want that arrangement, others will not be comfortable with it. Transgender students who are uncomfortable using a sex-segregated restroom should be provided with a safe and adequate alternative, such as a single “unisex” restroom or the nurse’s restroom. Similarly, some transgender students may not be comfortable undressing in the changing facilities that correspond to the student’s gender identity. The following are examples of ways in which school officials have responded to these situations:

In one elementary school, a transgender second-grader socially transitioned from female to male. The principal informed the staff: For the remainder of this year, he will use Nurse Margaret’s restroom, and toward the end of the year we will make future 10 As discussed in the section on Names and Pronouns, the Department’s publication Assigning State Assigned Student Identifiers (SASIDs) to Massachusetts’ Public School Students guides district staff through the process of adding or revising SIMS data.

Some students may feel uncomfortable with a transgender student using the same sexsegregated restroom, locker room or changing facility. This discomfort is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student. School administrators and counseling staff should work with students to address the discomfort and to foster understanding of gender identity, to create a school culture that respects and values all students. The Department strongly recommends that districts include an appropriate number of genderneutral restrooms commensurate with the size of the school, and at least one gender-neutral changing facility, into the design of new schools and school renovations.

School staff as well as students and their families may find the use of restrooms and changing facilities to be among the more challenging issues presented by the gender identity law, perhaps due to issues of personal privacy. As emphasized in other sections of this guidance, these issues should be resolved on a case-by-case basis, through dialogue with students and parents, and through leadership in creating safe and supportive learning environments.


Every student needs to be safe in the restroom. For a variety of reasons, a student may have concerns about privacy or comfort when using a restroom with other students. Any student who has a need or desire for increased privacy, regardless of underlying reasons, has the right to access a single-user restroom. Students should be allowed to use the restroom in accordance with their gender identity. Alternative and nonstigmatizing options, such as an all-gender or single-user restroom (e.g., staff bathroom or nurse’s office), should be made available to all students who request them. While gender-neutral bathroom facilities are often the solution that works best for all students, including transgender students, districts are reminded that current interpretation of federal civil rights laws protect the right of transgender students to use the bathroom of their gender identity if they so choose. By making behavioral expectations clear, supervising facilities appropriately, and enforcing relevant policies, schools can address concerns about safety and privacy in these spaces.


Transgender and gender nonconforming students should be afforded the opportunity to use the restroom of their choice. Some students may feel uncomfortable with using a restroom with a transgender or gender nonconforming student. Any student who wishes not to share a restroom with a transgender or gender nonconforming student can be provided a private space such as a single-user restroom. Many schools have chosen to make single-stall restrooms available to all students. For example, some schools have re-purposed a staff restroom into a single user restroom for all students to use.


School districts, as well as students and their families, may find the use of restrooms, changing facilities, and participation in extracurricular activities to be among the more important issues in this area. The United States Departments of Education and Justice have stated that: [u]nder Title IX, discrimination based on a person’s gender transgender status, or a person’s nonconformity, identity, a person’s to sex stereotypes constitutes discrimination based on sex. As such, prohibiting a student from accessing the restrooms that match his gender identity is prohibited sex discrimination under

Title IX. There is a public interest in ensuring that all students, including transgender students, have the opportunity to learn in an environment free of sex discrimination (emphasis added). Alternative accommodations, such as a single “unisex” bathroom or private changing space, should be made available to students who request them, but should never be forced upon students, nor presented as the only option.


School districts, as well as students and their families, may find the use of restrooms, locker rooms, changing facilities, and participation in extracurricular activities to be among the more important issues to consider. OCR has recognized that school districts “in preventing and redressing discrimination, … must formulate, interpret and apply their rules in a manner that respects the legal rights of students, including constitutional rights relating to privacy.”

In 2015, the United States Departments of Education and Justice stated that: Under Title IX, discrimination based on a person’s gender identity, a person’s transgender status, or a person’s nonconformity to sex stereotypes constitutes discrimination based on sex. As such, prohibiting a student from accessing the restrooms that matches his (her) gender identity is prohibited sex discrimination under Title IX. There is a public interest in ensuring that all students, including transgender students, have the opportunity to learn in an environment free of sex discrimination.

Based on a recent OCR finding against an Illinois school district, it is recommended that alternative accommodations, such as a single “unisex” bathroom or private changing space, should be made available to students who request them, but should not be forced upon students, or presented as the only option.


All students are entitled to have access to restrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities that are sanitary, safe, and adequate, so they can comfortably and fully engage in their school program and activities. The May 13, 2016 guidance issued by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice states that: As a condition of receiving Federal funds, a school agrees that it will not exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat differently on the basis of sex any person in its educational programs or activities unless expressly authorized to do so under Title IX or its implementing regulations.

The Departments treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of Title IX and its implementing regulations. This means that a school must not treat a transgender student differently from the way it treats other students of the same gender identity. Accordingly, the student may access the restroom, locker room, and changing facility that correspond to the student’s gender identity. A student, upon request, should be provided with a safe and non-stigmatizing alternative to a gender-segregated facility. This may include the addition of a privacy partition or curtain, permission to use a nearby private restroom or office, or a separate changing schedule. However, requiring a transgender or gender non-conforming student to use a separate, nonintegrated space should not be done unless requested by the student and or family. Under no circumstances may students be required to use sex-segregated facilities that are inconsistent with their gender identity.

Some students may feel uncomfortable with a transgender student using the same sex-segregated restroom, locker room or changing facility. This discomfort is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student. School administrators and counseling staff should work with students to foster understanding of gender identity and to create a school culture that respects and values all students. Schools could consider gender-neutral restrooms and/or gender-neutral changing facility in the design of new schools and school renovations.


The use of restrooms and locker rooms by transgender students requires schools to consider numerous factors, including, but not limited to: the transgender student’s preference; protecting student privacy; maximizing social integration of the transgender student; minimizing stigmatization of the student; ensuring equal opportunity to participate; the student’s age; and protecting the safety of the students involved. A transgender student should not be required to use a locker room or restroom that conflicts with the student’s gender identity.

Schools may consider including gender neutral restrooms into the design of new construction and/or building renovation.


Public schools must allow students to use the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity. Any student—transgender or not—who requests greater privacy for any reason should be given access to an alternative restroom, such as a staff restroom or health office restroom. However, school staff cannot require a student to use an alternative restroom because of their transgender or gender non­conforming status.


Having safe access to restroom facilities is important to the health and wellbeing of all people, including those who identify as transgender and gender-­‐nonconforming. Students are allowed to use the same bathrooms as their peers, unless they request alternate accommodations. This means that transgender and gender-­‐nonconforming students are entitled to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. Any student, transgender or otherwise, who has a need or desire for increased privacy, regardless of underlying reasons, also has the right to access a single-­‐user restroom, such as a staff bathroom or the bathroom in the nurse’s office. However, the single-­‐user bathroom may not be given as the only option for transgender or gender-­‐nonconforming students.

Dress Codes

 

Nondiscriminatory gender segregated dress codes may be enforced by a school or school district pursuant to district policy. Students shall have the right to dress in accordance with their gender identity, within the constraints of the dress codes adopted by the school. School staff shall not enforce a school’s dress code more strictly against transgender and gender nonconforming students than other students.


Students shall have the right to dress in accordance with their gender identity that is asserted at school, within the constraints of the dress codes adopted at their school site. All students should be permitted to wear any clothing that is appropriate for students with the same gender identity. For example, all students with a female gender identity should be permitted to wear clothing that is appropriate for any girl students to wear. All students with a male gender identity should be permitted to wear clothing that is appropriate for any boy student to wear.


All students should be permitted to wear the clothing of their choice, regardless of whether it conforms to traditional gender stereotypes, provided that such clothing does not violate the school’s dress code. Dress codes should be gender neutral. Students may dress in accordance with their gender identity and gender expression. School personnel should not enforce a school’s dress code more strictly against transgender and gender nonconforming students. This applies to dress at school as well as at a school’s co- and extra-curricular activities.


Allow the student to dress in accordance with the student’s identified gender for school or other extracurricular activities including prom, graduation, yearbook, or other activities.


Students should be permitted to dress in a manner consistent with the student’s gender identity, subject to any dress code adopted by the educational institution. The dress code should be applied to the student consistent with their gender identity.


Review dress codes to describe what the school considers appropriate clothing without referencing gender.

Old Practice: male: pants and shorts must cover their underwear; female: pants, shirts or dresses must cover their underwear New Practice: ―All outer clothing must completely cover underwear.
  • Consider gender neutral dress codes for class or yearbook photos, honor society ceremonies, graduation ceremonies, or dances.
  • Review dress codes to describe what the school considers appropriate clothing o Permit all students to wear any clothing that is appropriate for students under the school dress code, regardless of the student’s gender or gender identity. This includes school extracurricular activities, as well as events, such as school dances, choral concerts, the wearing of uniforms, or graduation.
  • If a school has two separate gender-specific dress codes, any student should be permitted to dress consistently with the dress code for either gender. So long as the student is compliant with one of the dress codes, the student should not be subject to discipline or a requirement to change clothing on the grounds that the student is wearing the wrong dress code for the student’s gender or gender identity.

Students should have the right to express their gender at school, within the parameters of the school’s dress code, without discrimination or harassment. The school’s dress code should be gender-neutral. In the event that the dress code has differing expectations or practices based on gender, students should be permitted to dress in accordance with their gender identity.


Gender nonconforming students and transgender students experience elevated rates of bullying and harassment based on gender identity or how they express their gender, which can include how they dress. In a recent study, 52 percent of transgender and gender nonconforming students report that they were not allowed to dress in a way that fit their gender identity or expression. While school dress codes need to be inclusive, it is equally important that school staff support transgender and gender nonconforming students and take steps to prevent bullying and harassment of these students during the school day and at school events as well.

All students often use clothing to express many facets of their identity. Clothing choices are informed by ethnicity, culture, religious beliefs and other aspects of identity, including gender identity. Schools routinely take into consideration the religious and cultural expressions of students when establishing dress codes. Schools should similarly take into consideration the expression of gender identity of students.

1. No student should be disciplined for wearing clothing that fails to conform to perceptions of gender based stereotypes.

2. School staff should not pressure or coerce any student into wearing certain attire choices over others that are provided. Here is one example of gender inclusive dress guidelines for a school event: “All students are expected to wear: a) black pants, a white collared shirt and a solid color tie; OR b) a knee-length black dress OR c) a black skirt that is knee length or longer and a white blouse OR c) black dress pants and a white collared shirt or white blouse.”

3. Where students are expected to dress formally, it is best practice to allow students to dress in formal wear that aligns with their gender identity while adhering to a gender inclusive dress code.


Schools may enforce dress codes pursuant to school/district policy. Students should have the right to dress in accordance with their gender identity, within the parameters of the dress code adopted by the school/district. School staff cannot enforce a dress code more strictly against transgender or gender non-conforming students than other students. Dress codes should be general statements that ensure the proper dress for all students.


Students have the right to express their gender at school—within the constraints of the school’s dress code—without discrimination or harassment. School dress codes should be gender­neutral and should not restrict a student’s clothing choices on the basis of gender.


Schools may enforce dress codes, but any dress code must be gender-­‐neutral. Students must have the right to dress in accordance with their gender identity, within the constraints of the dress codes adopted by the school. School staff must not enforce a school’s dress code more strictly against transgender and gender-­‐nonconforming students than other students.

Student Records and Privacy

 

A transgender or gender nonconforming student may not express their gender identity openly in all contexts, including at home. Revealing a student’s gender identity or expression to others may compromise the student’s safety. Thus, preserving a student’s privacy is of the utmost importance. The right of transgender students to keep their transgender status private is grounded in California’s antidiscrimination laws as well as federal and state laws. Disclosing that a student is transgender without the student’s permission may violate California’s antidiscrimination law by increasing the student’s vulnerability to harassment and may violate the student’s right to privacy.

A. Public Records Act requests - The Education Code requires that schools keep student records private. Private information such as transgender status or gender identity falls within this code requirement and should not be released. (Education Code Section 49060.) B. Family Educational and Privacy Rights (FERPA) - FERPA is federal law that protects the privacy of students’ education records. FERPA provides that schools may only disclose information in school records with written permission from a student’s parents or from the student after the student reaches the age of 18. (20 U.S.C. Section 1232g.) This includes any “information that . . . would allow a reasonable person in the school community . . . to identify the student with reasonable certainty.” (34 C.F.R. Section 99.3.)

C. California Constitution - Minors enjoy a right to privacy under Article I, Section I of the California Constitution that is enforceable against private parties and government officials. The right to privacy encompasses the right to non-disclosure (autonomy privacy) as well as in the collection and dissemination of personal information such as medical records and gender identity (informational privacy). Even when information is part of a student’s records and therefore covered by FERPA, the law provides several exceptions that permit appropriate communications under circumstances in which the student or others may be at risk of harm. Transgender or gender nonconforming students are often subject to stressors which can place them at risk of self-harm. FERPA expressly permits the disclosure of information from a student’s records “…to appropriate parties in connection with an emergency if knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.” (34 C.F.R. Section 99.36(a).) “If the educational agency or institution determines that there is an articulable and significant threat to the health or safety of a student or other individuals, it may disclose information from education records to any person whose knowledge of the information is necessary to protect the health or safety of the student or other individuals.” (Id. Section 99.36(c).)

Moreover, although FERPA restricts disclosures of information obtained from a student’s records, it was never intended to act as a complete prohibition on all communications. One threshold point that is often overlooked is that FERPA limits only the disclosure of records and information from records about a student. It does not limit disclosure or discussion of personal observations. In other words, if a school employee develops a concern about a student based on the employee’s observations of or personal interactions with the student, the employee may disclose that concern to anyone without violating, or even implicating, FERPA. Of course, in most cases, the initial disclosure should be made to professionals trained to evaluate and handle such concerns, such as school student health or welfare personnel, who can then determine whether further and broader disclosures are appropriate.

What steps should a school or school district take to protect a transgender or gender nonconforming student’s right to privacy? To prevent accidental disclosure of a student’s transgender status, it is strongly recommended that schools keep records that reflect a transgender student’s birth name and assigned sex (e.g., copy of the birth certificate) apart from the student’s school records. Schools should consider placing physical documents in a locked file cabinet in the principal’s or nurse’s office. Alternatively, schools could indicate in the student’s records that the necessary identity documents have been reviewed and accepted without retaining the documents themselves. Furthermore, schools should implement similar safeguards to protect against disclosure of information contained in electronic records.

Pursuant to the above protections, schools must consult with a transgender student to determine who can or will be informed of the student’s transgender status, if anyone, including the student’s family. With rare exceptions, schools are required to respect the limitations that a student places on the disclosure of their transgender status, including not sharing that information with the student’s parents. In those very rare circumstances where a school believes there is a specific and compelling “need to know,” the school should inform the student that the school intends to disclose the student’s transgender status, giving the student the opportunity to make that disclosure her or himself. Additionally, schools must take measures to ensure that any disclosure is made in a way that reduces or eliminates the risk of re-disclosure and protects the transgender student from harassment and discrimination. Those measures could include providing counseling to the student and the student’s family to facilitate the family’s acceptance and support of the student’s transgender status. Schools are not permitted to disclose private student information to other students or the parents of those students.

A transgender student’s right to privacy does not restrict a student’s right to openly discuss and express their gender identity or to decide when or with whom to share private information. A student does not waive his or her right to privacy by selectively sharing this information with others.

A school district is required to maintain a mandatory permanent student record which includes the legal name of the student and the student’s gender. If and when a school district receives documentation that such legal name or gender has been changed, the district must update the student’s official record accordingly.

If the school district has not received documentation supporting a legal name or gender change, the school should nonetheless update all unofficial school records (e.g. attendance sheets, school IDs, report cards) to reflect the student’s name and gender marker that is consistent with the student’s gender identity. This is critical in order to avoid unintentionally revealing the student’s transgender status to others in violation of the student’s privacy rights, as discussed above in section 6.

If a student so chooses, district personnel shall be required to address the student by a name and the pronouns consistent with the student’s gender identity, without the necessity of legal documentation or a change to the student’s official district record. The student’s age is not a factor. For example, children as early as age two are expressing a different gender identity. It is strongly suggested that teachers privately ask transgender or gender nonconforming students at the beginning of the school year how they want to be addressed in class, in correspondence to the home, or at conferences with the student’s parents.

In addition to preserving a transgender student’s privacy, referring to a transgender student by the student’s chosen name and pronouns fosters a safe, supportive and inclusive learning environment. To ensure that transgender students have equal access to the programs and activities provided by the school, all members of the school community must use a transgender student’s chosen name and pronouns. Schools should also implement safeguards to reduce the possibility of inadvertent slips or mistakes, particularly among temporary personnel such as substitute teachers.


Gender markers are the designation on school and other records that indicate what a student’s gender is. For most students, the gender marker will be determined by a student’s assigned birth sex. For transgender students, however, the gender marker shall be determined by the student’s asserted gender identity. All schools are to accurately indicate the student’s gender identity on all records. If the student has previously been known by his/her assigned birth sex, the parents may request that the gender marker on the student records be amended to reflect the student’s gender identity. The school will promptly train all teachers, staff, and school administrators to use the pronoun that matches the student’s gender identity and ensure that all school records reflect the student’s gender identity and not the assigned birth sex. If the student is just entering the school, registration may be completed using the gender marker that reflects the gender identity of the student. The assigned birth sex is considered private medical information and is not to be disclosed.

The school principal should meet with the parents to determine which school staff should be informed of the fact that the student’s gender identity is different that the assigned birth sex. For younger children, it may be appropriate to inform the school nurse as well as the classroom teacher to ensure that the student receives the appropriate support for a safe and respectful learning environment. For older children, the parents and school principal may determine that only the school nurse need know or, in some cases, that no school staff beyond the principal or other senior administrator need have information about the child’s assigned birth sex. Since the student’s birth certificate and health records may contain name and gender information that differs from school records, these documents are to be kept apart from the student’s school records. The school may choose to keep these documents locked in the office of the principal or nurse. Alternatively, the school may simply note that these records have been received and accepted without retaining the documents themselves.


At this time, schools are required to use a student’s legal name and assigned sex at birth on standardized tests and official reports. School staff should be mindful that a transgender student’s gender identity and preferred name may not conform with the official records and protect the student’s privacy by avoiding inadvertent disclosure of the student’s legal name and assigned sex at birth, whenever possible.

Information about transgender student’s legal identity, transgender gender identity, and assigned sex at birth should be treated as confidential information. Disclosing such information to other students, their parents, or other third parties may violate privacy laws, such as FERPA. Do not disclose information that may reveal a transgender student’s status to others, unless legally required to do so, or unless the student has authorized such disclosure. To the extent that the record or directory information provided about the student is not a legal record or the school is not legally required to use a student’s legal name or sex, the school should use the name, pronouns, and gender marker requested by the student.


A student has a right to keep his or her status as a transgendered student private at school. The district should keep this information confidential and staff should not disclose this unless legally required to. Even if the student has disclosed his or her status to other staff or students, it is not the school’s information to share. Medical information of the student should also be kept confidential.

A legal name change is not required for a student to use the preferred name for class lists, student activities, yearbook publications, etc. However, a student’s legal name must be indicated in the student’s official records. The district may list the student’s preferred name in the official records by listing it next to the student’s legal name with asterisks next to it until a legal name change is made.


A student’s official record shall bear their legal name, which may be changed only upon proof that the student’s legal name has been changed pursuant to a court order. At the written request of a student, however, and consistent with the student’s gender identity, the educational institution shall use the student’s preferred name and pronouns consistent with their gender identity on all other documents.


Modify forms that allow families and students the ability to self-identify their gender and preferred names and pronouns. Multiple federal and state agencies have adopted a two-part question that asks separately about current gender identity and sex assigned at birth.

Provide a means to protect the student’s previous identity once a legal name change has occurred and current records are amended to show the change. o Store historical records where they are safe from inadvertent disclosure. o Implement practices that safeguard confidential information from inadvertent disclosure when school staff or administrators are required by law to use or to report a student’s legal name or gender as it appears in the official record.

Upon request, amend and re-issue a diploma in a former student’s name once the former student secures a legal name change, being sure that the fact that the student’s name was changed is not indicated in any way on the diploma.

Note that while a balance between students’ rights to privacy and parents’ rights to information in the educational environment is vital, no provision of state or federal law requires schools to affirmatively disclose this sensitive information to parents. Courts have recognized a constitutional right to medical confidentiality concerning one’s status as a transsexual person, (See Powell v. Schriver, 175 F.3d 107, 111 (2nd Cir. 1999). Federal courts have concluded that schools should not disclose sensitive student information such as sexual orientation to parents without a legitimate stated interest to do so. See Nguon v. Wolf, 517 F. Supp. 2d 1177, (C.D. Cal. 2007) (finding a legitimate purpose for disclosure but stating school could not have ―gratuitously disclosed student’s sexual orientation to parents); Wyatt v. Kilgore Indep. Sch. Dist., 200 WL 601 6467 (E.D. Tex. Nov. 30, 2011), rev’d in part on other grounds, 718 F.3d 496 (5th Cir. 2013), (finding right to privacy regarding student’s sexual orientation and denying summary judgment to school district).

Treat all student information, medical, or other sensitive personal information, including information relating to transgender students, as confidential in accordance with applicable state, local and federal privacy laws.

Implement training and practices that assist school staff and prevent accidental disclosure of information that may reveal a student’s transgender status to others, including parents and other school staff unless the student and/or the student’s parent has authorized school staff to make such disclosure or staff is legally required to do so. Consider that while information in official student records must be disclosed upon the request of parents, sensitive information related to gender identity generally need not be disclosed without the student’s consent.


Under state law, information about a student’s assigned birth sex, name change for gender identity purposes, gender transition, medical or mental health treatment related to gender identity, or any other information of a similar nature, regardless of its form, is part of the individual’s student record (see Massachusetts Student Records Regulations, 603 CMR 23.00), is confidential, and must be kept private and secure, except in limited circumstances. 603 CMR § 23.04.8 One circumstance is when authorized school personnel require the information to provide administrative, teaching, counseling, or other services to the student in the performance of their official duties. For transgender students, authorized school personnel could include individuals such as the principal, school nurse, classroom teacher(s), or guidance or adjustment counselor.

When a student new to a school is using a chosen name, the birth name is considered private information and may be disclosed only with authorization as provided under the Massachusetts Student Records Regulations. If the student has previously been known at school or in school records by his or her birth name, the principal should direct school personnel to use the student’s chosen name. Every effort should be made to update student records (for example, Individualized Education Programs) with the student’s chosen name and not circulate records with the student’s assigned birth name. Records with the student’s assigned birth name should

For certain transactions, such as banking and applying for governmental benefits or licenses, it may be necessary to have a formal legal document establishing one’s change of name for identity and other purposes. The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, 20 USC 1232g, also protects the privacy of education records and requires that personally identifiable information be kept secure and confidential. be kept in a separate, confidential file. One school nurse dealt with information in the student’s file by starting a new file with the student’s chosen name, entered previous medical information (for example, immunizations) under the student’s chosen name, and created a separate, confidential folder that contained the student’s past information and birth name.

When determining which, if any, staff or students should be informed that a student’s gender identity is different from the assigned birth sex, decisions should be made in consultation with the student, or in the case of a young student, the student’s parent or guardian. The key question is whether and how sharing the information will benefit the student. In one case, parents of a transgender male-to-female elementary school student requested that only the school principal and the school nurse be aware that the student was assigned the sex of male at birth. After a discussion with the school principal, the parents agreed that the student’s teacher, the school secretary, and the district superintendent would also be informed. In this situation, the school principal kept the student’s birth certificate in a separate, locked file that only the principal could access, and put a note in the student’s other file saying that the principal had viewed the student’s birth certificate. In another situation, where a biological male came to school after April vacation as a girl, the school principal and guidance counselor, in collaboration with the student and her parents, developed a plan for communicating information regarding the student’s transition to staff, parents, and students. The plan included who was going to say what to whom, and when the communication would take place.

Transgender and gender nonconforming students may decide to discuss and express their gender identity openly and may decide when, with whom, and how much to share private information. A student who is 14 years of age or older, or who has entered the ninth grade, may consent to disclosure of information from his or her student record. If a student is under 14 and is not yet in the ninth grade, the student’s parent (alone) has the authority to decide on disclosures and other student record matters.

A gender marker is the designation on school and other records that indicates a student’s gender. For most students, records that include an indication of a student’s gender will reflect a student’s assigned birth sex. For transgender students, however, a documented gender marker (for example, “male” or “female” on a permanent record) should reflect the student’s 9 See 603 CMR §§23.01 and 23.07. If a student is from 14 through 17 years of age or has entered ninth grade, both the parent and the student may make decisions concerning the student record, or either the student or the parent acting alone may decide.

gender identity, not the student’s assigned sex. This means that if a transgender student whose gender identity is male has a school record that reflects an assigned birth sex as female, then upon request by the student or, in the case of young students not yet able to advocate for themselves, by the parent or guardian, the school should change the gender marker on the record to male.10 Schools are advised to collect or maintain information about students’ gender only when necessary. One school reviewed the documentation requests it sent out to families and noticed that field trip permission forms included a line to fill in indicating the student’s gender. Upon consideration, the school determined that the requested information was irrelevant to the field trip activities and deleted the line with the gender marker request.

In addition, transgender students who transition after having completed high school, may ask their previous schools to amend school records or a diploma or transcript that include the student’s birth name and gender. When requested, and when satisfied with the gender identity information provided, schools should amend the student’s record, including reissuing a high school diploma or transcript, to reflect the student’s current name and gender.


When requested, schools should engage in reasonable and good faith efforts to change current unofficial student records (e.g., class and team rosters, yearbooks, school newspapers, and newsletters) with the chosen name and appropriate gender markers to promote consistency among teachers, substitute teachers, school administrators, and other staff.14 The Michigan School Code requires proof of identity and age for school entry (e.g., birth certificate, passport) but does not address changing names and gender markers in student records. Per communications with the U.S. Department of Education, the gender marker in the pupil’s official record should reflect the gender identity of the student regardless of what appears on the birth certificate.15 While Michigan law provides a process for people to seek a legal name change, there may be extenuating circumstances that make a legal name change desired but unattainable. Parents, or students who are age 18 or older, have the right to seek amendment to the school records (per FERPA) if their records are deemed “inaccurate, misleading, or in violation of the student’s privacy.”

School districts should comply if transgender students ask the district to amend their secondary educational records, including diplomas and Safe and Supportive Learning Environments for LGBTQ Students September 14, 2016 Page 4 / 9 transcripts after graduation, to ensure that those requesting records (e.g., college admissions offices or potential employers) will only see the name and gender marker corresponding to the student’s gender identity.

Privacy and Confidentiality Regarding Disclosures. A student’s transgender status, birth name, and sex assigned at birth are confidential information and considered personally identifiable information (PII) under FERPA.16 Schools should engage in reasonable and good faith efforts to protect students’ and their family’s privacy by not disclosing, or requiring students or their parent/guardian to disclose, PII to the school and/or school community. Such disclosures may be harmful, infringe upon the privacy of students and their families, and may possibly violate FERPA or constitutional privacy protections.

When students have not come out17 to their parent(s), a disclosure to parent(s) should be carefully considered on a case-by-case basis. School districts should consider the health, safety, and well-being of the student, as well as the responsibility to keep parents informed. Privacy considerations may vary with the age of the students.


Teachers can support inclusion of all students, including transgender and gender-nonconforming students, by embracing simple classroom practices that allow for all students to participate in accordance with their gender identity. Classroom practices that recognize and affirm all students, including transgender and gendernonconforming students, are varied and can include how the teacher addresses the classroom and how the teacher separates students into groups. Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of students. Schools should note that neither a student’s gender nor pronouns are considered public or directory information. Casual use of a student’s incorrect pronoun or incorrect name may violate FERPA. FERPA also permits families to elect not to disclose directory information about their student.

1. Because schools have multiple student record systems, schools should inventory all of their student record systems to ensure that they have implemented a systemic process that ensures that the names of students are consistently used as they wish to be identified. Schools should consider adding a customized data field for pronouns in their student record system. Schools should ensure that information for the student is properly recorded within the Minnesota Automated Reporting Student System (MARSS). If you have questions or need assistance with this, contact Minnesota Department of Education staff, (marss@state.mn.us).

2. A school administrator or designee should meet with the student and family to discuss how the student’s name and gender will be communicated to peers and the school community. School principals should consider periodically reminding all staff personnel to consistently use the requested name and pronouns of students. 3. Teachers could address students as “students” and “scholars” to be inclusive as opposed to “boys and girls.”


Schools should work closely with the student and family in devising an appropriate plan regarding the confidentiality of the student’s transgender status. In some cases, transgender students may feel more supported and safe if other students are aware that they are transgender. In these cases, school staff should work closely with the student, families, and other staff members on a plan to inform and educate the student’s peers. It may also be appropriate to engage with community resources to assist with educational efforts. However, in other cases, transgender students do not want their parents to know about their transgender status. These situations must be addressed on a case-by-case basis and will require schools to balance the goal of supporting the student with the requirement that parents be kept informed about their children. The paramount consideration in those situations is the health and safety of the student and making sure that the student’s gender identity is affirmed in a manner in which the level of privacy and confidentiality is maintained necessary to protect the student’s safety.

New York State Education Law § 2-d prohibits the unauthorized release of a student’s personally identifiable information, including but not limited to the student’s name, indirect identifiers, and other information that alone or in combination is linked or linkable to a specific student that would allow a reasonable person in the school community to identify the student.32 The federal Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)33 also protects the privacy of student educational records and places restrictions on the release of students’ personally identifiable information. For specific inquiries regarding what constitutes the unauthorized release of a student’s personally identifiable information, school districts should consult their attorneys. For more information on student privacy, in general, see NYSED’s Parents’ Bill of Rights for Data Privacy and Security at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/docs/parents-bill-of-rights.pdf.

Within the school and school district, when a transgender or GNC student new to a school is using a chosen name, the birth name should be kept confidential by school and district staff. School districts are reminded that, while disclosure of personally identifiable information from a student’s education record to other school officials, including teachers, within the district whom the district has determined to have legitimate educational interests may be permissible under FERPA, the district must, among other things, use reasonable methods to ensure that school officials obtain access to only those education records in which they have legitimate educational interests.

Generally, records with the student’s birth name should be kept in a separate, confidential file. If the student has previously been known at school or in school records by his/her/their birth name, the principal should direct school personnel to use the student’s chosen name and not the student’s birth name. To ensure consistency among teachers, school administrators, substitute teachers and other staff, every effort should be made to immediately update student education records (for example, attendance records, transcripts, Individualized Education Programs, etc.) with the student’s chosen name and appropriate gender markers and not circulate records with the student’s birth name. A school’s failure or refusal to amend such records could, for example,

32 N.Y. EDUC. LAW § 2-d. 33 20 U.S.C. 1232g; 34 C.F.R. Part 99. 34 34 C.F.R. § 99.31(a)(1). 8 lead to delays in the student’s receipt of appropriate services or create problems related to the award of appropriate high school course credit, thereby imperiling a student’s ability to graduate with his or her class. With respect to student medical records, school nurses and other licensed professionals need accurate and reliable information to confirm a student’s identity in order to ensure that the student receives appropriate care and to enable them to coordinate care with other health care providers or

licensed professionals, as well as to file health insurance claims with other organizations, such as Medicaid. Nurses are legally required to maintain patient records that accurately document clinical information relating to their patients and must keep their patients’ health records confidential.35 In the case of a transgender student, a school nurse should use the student’s chosen name, and should use the student’s birth name only when necessary to ensure that the student receives appropriate care and to enable the school nurse to coordinate care for the student with other health care providers or licensed professionals, as well as to file health insurance claims. For more information on the maintenance and confidentiality of student medical records, please contact the New York State Education Department Office of Student Support Services or the New York State Statewide School Health Services Center.


However, in other cases, transgender students may not want their parents to know about their transgender identity. These situations should be addressed on a case-by-case basis and school districts should balance the goal of supporting the student with the requirement that parents be kept informed about their children. The paramount consideration in such situations should be the health and safety of the student, while also making sure that the student’s gender identity is affirmed in a manner that maintains privacy and confidentiality.

Students may openly discuss and express their gender identity and expression, and decide when, with whom, and how much information to share. District and school personnel may also encounter situations in which transgender students have not disclosed being a transgender student. School personnel should be mindful of the confidentiality and privacy rights of students when communicating with others and mindful not to reveal, imply, or refer to a student’s gender identity or expression. To ensure confidentiality when discussing a particular concern such as academic progress, access to learning, conduct, discipline, grades, attendance, or health, the focus of school personnel should be specifically on the concern at issue and not on the student’s gender identity or expression.

There are no state laws which either require or prescribe requirements for school district issued student IDs. However, if your school district has chosen to issue student IDs, it is recommended that student IDs be issued in the name reflecting the student’s gender identity consistently asserted at school. This may require issuing the student a new ID card.

School personnel should not disclose information that may reveal a student’s transgender identity except as allowed under the Family Education Rights Privacy Act (FERPA). Under FERPA, generally only those school employees “determined to have legitimate educational interests” may have access to a student’s records or the information contained within those records.16 However, FERPA also contains other general exceptions for release of student records. 17 For example, 15 ORS 174.100. 16 34 C.F.R. § 99.31(a)(1). 17 See the following web site for a discussion of the requirements of FERPA: http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html

6 student records may be released with the written permission of a student’s parent. These rights transfer to the student when the student reaches the age of 18 or attends a school beyond the high school level. Disclosing confidential student information to other employees, students, parents, or other third parties may violate privacy laws, including but not limited to FERPA. Disclosing confidential student medical information, for example transition status or hormone therapy, to other employees, students, parents or other third parties may constitute a violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) or Oregon law.18

Transgender students have the ability, as do all students, to discuss and express their gender identity and expression openly and decide when, with whom, and how much of their private information to share with others. Schools should work closely with the student and parents in customizing an appropriate plan regarding the confidentiality of the student’s transgender identity that supports the student. That plan may include the option to inform and educate the student’s peers or to not share the information with the student’s peers.

When a transgender student new to a school is using a preferred name, the birth name should be kept confidential by school district staff. School districts should review their Student Information Systems and ensure that all printed and digital materials generated for classroom and instructor use show the student’s chosen name, not their legal name. Examples include attendance sheets, grade books, etc. School districts are reminded to use reasonable methods for ensuring that only those with a legitimate educational interest have access to student records.

Students are often still in transition at the time of graduation and have not necessarily completed legal name changes and other documentation. Recommended best practice for graduating transgender students is to provide two diplomas and two sets of transcripts, one with the legal first name and one with the preferred first name. Once a student has completed a legal name change, they can request all records be updated in their student education record to reflect their legally changed name. This may happen before or after graduation.

Although there are no state requirements relating to whether transcripts contain information about a student’s gender, it is recommended that student transcripts be gender neutral and contain no indicator of gender for any student.

School nurses and other licensed health professionals need accurate and reliable information to ensure that the student receives appropriate care to enable them to coordinate care with other health care providers. A school nurse should use the transgender student’s preferred name and identified gender except when necessary to ensure the health and safety of the student.


All people, including students, have a right to privacy, and this includes the right to keep one’s transgender status private at school. Information about a student’s transgender status, legal name, or gender assigned at birth also may constitute confidential medical information. Disclosing this information to other students, their parents, or other third parties may violate privacy laws, such as FERPA. Therefore, school staff must not disclose information that may reveal a student’s transgender status to others, including parents and other school staff, unless legally required to do so or unless the student has authorized such disclosure (GLSEN, 2015).

Transgender and gender non-conforming students have the right to discuss and express their gender identity and expression openly and to decide when, with whom, and how much to share private information. The fact that a student chooses to disclose his or her transgender status to June, 2016 Page 7 staff or other students does not authorize school staff to disclose medical and/or other information about the student. When contacting the parent(s) or guardian(s) of a transgender student, school staff should use the student’s legal name and the pronoun corresponding to the student’s gender assigned at birth unless the student or parent(s)/guardian(s) have specified otherwise.

The school is required to change a student’s official record to reflect a change in legal name or gender when there is documentation that such a change has been made pursuant to a court order or through amendment of state or federally issued identification documents. However, to the extent that the school is not legally required to use a student’s legal name and gender on other school records or documents, the school should use the name and gender requested by the student. In situations where school staff or administrators are required by law to use or to report a transgender student’s legal name or gender (for example, standardized testing), school staff and administrators must adopt practices to avoid the inadvertent disclosure of such confidential information.

When determining which, if any, staff or students shall be informed that a student’s gender identity is different from the assigned sex at birth; decisions should be made in consultation with the student, or in the case of a young student, the student’s parent(s) or guardian(s). The main focus should be on how the sharing of information will benefit the student.

Certified school nurse teachers and other licensed professionals need accurate and reliable information to confirm a student’s identity in order to ensure that the student receives appropriate care and to enable them to coordinate care with other health care providers or licensed professionals, as well as to file health insurance claims. Nurses are legally required, per the RI Rules and Regulations for School Health Programs, to maintain an individual school health record for every student that accurately documents clinical information relating to their patients and must keep their patients’ health records confidential. In the case of a transgender student, a school nurse should use the student’s preferred name, and should use the student’s birth name only when necessary to ensure that the student receives appropriate care and to enable the school nurse to coordinate care for the student with other health care providers or licensed professionals, as well as to file health insurance claims.

 


Except as set forth herein, school personnel should not disclose information that may reveal a student’s transgender or gender nonconforming status. Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), only those school employees with a legitimate educational need should have access to a student’s records or the information contained within those records. Disclosing confidential student information to other employees, students, parents, or other third parties may violate privacy laws, including but not limited to FERPA. Transgender or gender nonconforming students have the ability, as do all students, to discuss and express their gender identity and gender expression openly and decide when, with whom, and how much of their private information to share with others.

Schools should work closely with the student and family, if appropriate, in devising an appropriate plan regarding the confidentiality of the student’s transgender or gender nonconforming status that works for both the student and the school. The support of the student’s family may vary. In adopting a student-centered approach, a school can best support a transgender student by involving the student regarding how and what information about the student is shared within the school and between the school and the student’s home. Some parents may be very supportive and advocate for the student with the school. Other students may not have a supportive home environment. In those cases, schools should develop a plan for information sharing which supports the student, while balancing a parent’s right to information. Any plan for sharing information must comply with all applicable laws, regulations, policies and guidelines. Privacy considerations may also vary with the age of the student.

For grades 9-12, the transcripts of all students must be permanently maintained; academic records may be permanently maintained. See State Board of Education Rule 2113. To the extent that the school is not legally required to use a student’s legal name or sex assigned at birth on school records and other documents, the school should use the name and gender preferred by the student. This may require the school to maintain two sets of records (one with the student’s legal name and sex assigned at birth kept separate from routine school records) to avoid inadvertent disclosure.

With respect to student medical records, school nurses and other licensed professionals need accurate and reliable information in order to ensure that the student receives appropriate care and to enable them to coordinate care with other health providers or licensed professionals, as well as to file health insurance claims with other organizations such as Medicaid. Nurses are required to accurately document clinical information relating to a patient and are also required to keep patient health records confidential. In the case of a transgender student, a school nurse should use the student’s chosen/preferred name, and should use the student’s birth name only when necessary to ensure the student receives appropriate care and to enable the school nurse to coordinate care for the student with other health care providers or licensed professionals, as well as to file health insurance claims.


School Records. Public school records should use the student’s preferred name and gender designation unless there is a legal reason not to do so. Non­official School Records. Records that document a student’s education should refer to a student by their preferred name and gender. For example, school identification cards should display the student’s preferred name. Official School Records. Education records mandated by law could require a school to use a student’s legal name and gender. For example, the documents related to state tests must report the student’s legal name. Schools should change the student’s name on official school records if the student provides documentation of a legal name change. Schools should change a student’s gender designation if a parent or student requests the change.

School staff can only share confidential educational and health information if they are permitted by law. In general, school staff should not share a student’s transgender or gender nonconforming status, legal name, or gender assigned at birth with others, who could include other students, school staff, and non­school staff.


All persons, including students, have a right to privacy, and this includes the right to keep one’s gender identity private at school. Information about a student’s transgender status, transition process, legal name, or gender assigned at birth also may constitute confidential medical information. Disclosing this information to other students, their parents, guardians, or other third parties may violate privacy laws, such as FERPA. This is why schools must use caution when sending out any notification to other parents about a student who is transitioning. The District must ensure that all medical information relating to transgender and gender-­‐nonconforming students will be kept confidential in accordance with applicable DC and federal privacy laws. School staff may not disclose information that may reveal a student’s transgender status or transition process to others, including parents, guardians, and other school staff, unless legally required to do so (e.g., such information is contained in an educational record under FERPA), or unless the student has authorized such disclosure. The only exception is when working with elementary-­‐aged students. For more information, please refer to the discussion regarding Developmentally Appropriate Protocols beginning on Page 7 of this guidance.

Transgender and gender-­‐nonconforming students have the right to discuss and express their gender identity and expression openly and decide when to share information, with whom, and how much to share. When contacting the parent or guardian of a transgender or gender-­‐nonconforming student, school staff should use the student’s legal name and the pronoun corresponding to the student’s gender assigned at birth unless the student, parent, or guardian has specified otherwise.

Athletics

 

Transgender students are entitled to and must be provided the same opportunities as all other students to participate in physical education and sports consistent with their gender identity. Participation in competitive athletic activities and contact sports are to be addressed on a case-by-case basis. For additional guidance, the California Interscholastic Federation issued new bylaws in 2013, which provide a detailed process for gender identity participation in interscholastic sports.


Transgender students should be permitted to participate in sex-segregated athletic activities based on their gender identity. Denying students such an opportunity is likely to result in their inability to participate in sports and gym programs altogether and risks exposing the school to liability under the law. Schools are reminded that physical education programs including gym classes and school teams are educational opportunities and critical to developing optimal student health, self-esteem and well-being. To the extent that they are also competitive activities, students enjoy a range of athletic benefits based on their individual attributes (height, speed, agility, etc.). There is no educationally sound or principled justification for denying transgender students athletic opportunities and no empirical reason to believe transgender students have any particular athletic advantage because of their ability to participate based on their gender identity rather than on their assigned birth sex.


Transgender students should not be denied the opportunity to participate in physical education. Students should be allowed to participate in gender-segregated recreational gym class activities and sports in accordance with their sincerely held gender identity.

Competitive Athletics The Department is in discussion regarding this issue. For any questions, please contact Nicole Isa-Iijima, Title IX Specialist at (808) 586-3322 or lotus notes.


A student must be permitted to participate in interscholastic activities for the gender with which that student identifies (assuming the student is eligible otherwise). The Iowa High School Athletic Association (IHSAA) has a Statement protecting these students.


Students should be allowed to compete on single-sex/gender teams based upon their gender identity. In general, if a student’s gender identity changes in concert with athletic seasons, the educational institution may request additional information supporting the student’s stated gender identity, unless 2 the school is already aware that the asserted gender identity, which may be fluid, is the student’s sincerely held core belief as to their gender. If the participation of a transgender student on the single-sex/gender team that most closely matches the student’s gender identity poses a significant risk of substantial physical harm to the student or to other participants, the educational institution and the student shall enter into interactive discussions to minimize or eliminate the threat of substantial harm, while also providing mutually-acceptable athletic opportunity for the student. The assessment that there is a significant risk of substantial physical harm cannot be based on generalizations or on assumptions about transgender athletes, or about sex/gender differences generally. Rather, the educational institution should engage in an individualized assessment of the individual student’s participation on the particular team at issue.


  • Include transgender students in sex-segregated athletic activities based on their gender identity.  Allow athletic participation without medical or legal documentation regarding gender.
  • Protect the student athlete’s privacy rights. Personal information regarding transgender status, medical history, or sex assigned at birth should not be disclosed to teammates, or to staff or students of other schools without the student’s consent.
  • Follow Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association Guidelines/COMAR for participation in Interscholastic Athletics.
  • Regulations: Each school system should develop and apply criteria for students to participate on interscholastic athletic teams consistent with their bona fide gender identity. All students who participate in interscholastic athletics must meet eligibility standards in COMAR 13A.06.03.

Physical education is a required course in all grades in Massachusetts’ public schools, and school-based athletics are an important part of many students’ lives. Most physical education classes in Massachusetts’ schools are coed, so the gender identity of students should not be an issue with respect to these classes. Where there are sex-segregated classes or athletic activities, including intramural and interscholastic athletics, all students must be allowed to participate in a manner consistent with their gender identity. With respect to interscholastic athletics, the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association will rely on the gender determination made by the student’s district; it will not make separate gender identity determinations.


Physical Education Classes and Intramural Sports. Students should be allowed to participate in physical education classes and intramural sports in accordance with their gender identity.

Interscholastic Sports. Generally, students should be allowed to participate in interscholastic sports in accordance with their gender identity.21 Eligibility of transgender students in Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA)-sponsored, post-season tournaments is governed by the MHSAA, subject to state and federal civil rights laws.


Physical education is a required course in all grades in Rhode Island public schools, and schoolbased athletics are an important part of many students’ lives. Most physical education classes in Rhode Island schools are co-ed, so the gender identity of students shall not be an issue with respect to these classes. Where there are sex-segregated classes or athletic activities, including intramural and interscholastic athletics, all students must be allowed to participate in a manner consistent with their gender identity.

With respect to interscholastic athletics, the Rhode Island Interscholastic League (RIIL) has its own policy related to participation and gender identity. The school administrator or athletic director must contact the RIIL to start the gender identity eligibility appeal process. According to the RIIL policy: All students should have the opportunity to participate in the RIIL activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the student’s records. Once the student has been granted eligibility to participate in the sports consistent with his/her gender identity, the eligibility is granted for the duration of the student’s participation and does not need to be renewed every sports season or school year. All discussion and documentation will be kept confidential, and the proceedings will be sealed unless the student and family make a specific request.


Sports and Physical Education Physical education is a required part of the curriculum and an important part of many students’ lives. Transgender students are to be provided the same opportunities to participate in physical education as are all other students. Generally, students should be permitted to participate in physical education and intramural sports in accordance with the student’s gender identity that is consistently asserted at school. 25 Id. at page 13. 26 ORS 174.100. 27 See Doe v Regional School Unit, 86A.3d 600 (2014). 11

Generally, transgender students should be permitted to also participate in interschool activities. Oregon law that prohibits discrimination in education also applies to interschool activities where the activity is financed in whole or in part by moneys appropriated by the Legislative Assembly.28 School districts should also review guidance provided by the Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) relating to participation in competitive high school inter-school


Physical education is a required course in all grades in Rhode Island public schools, and schoolbased athletics are an important part of many students’ lives. Most physical education classes in Rhode Island schools are co-ed, so the gender identity of students shall not be an issue with respect to these classes. Where there are sex-segregated classes or athletic activities, including intramural and interscholastic athletics, all students must be allowed to participate in a manner consistent with their gender identity.

With respect to interscholastic athletics, the Rhode Island Interscholastic League (RIIL) has its own policy related to participation and gender identity. The school administrator or athletic director must contact the RIIL to start the gender identity eligibility appeal process. According to the RIIL policy: All students should have the opportunity to participate in the RIIL activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the student’s records. Once the student has been granted eligibility to participate in the sports consistent with his/her gender identity, the eligibility is granted for the duration of the student’s participation and does not need to be renewed every sports season or school year. All discussion and documentation will be kept confidential, and the proceedings will be sealed unless the student and family make a specific request.


Sports and Physical Education Transgender and gender nonconforming students are to be provided the same opportunities to participate in physical education as are all other students. Generally, students should be permitted to participate in physical education and sports in accordance with the student’s gender identity. Participation in competitive athletic activities and sports will be resolved on a case-by-case basis. Schools should refer to the Vermont Principal’s Association Activities/Athletics Policies: Article 1 Section 2.


Schools must allow all students to participate in physical education and athletics that correspond to their gender identity. Eligibility for interscholastic athletics is determined by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA). WIAA Handbook: Eligibility


DCPS athletics are managed and operated by the DC Interscholastic Athletics Association (DCIAA); athletics activities at the District level are managed and operated by the District of Columbia State Athletic Association (DCSAA). Both the DCIAA and the DCSAA support the participation of transgender and gender-­‐nonconforming students in all athletics activities in alignment with the DC Human Rights Act, Title IX, and other laws and regulations prohibiting discrimination or promoting participation in interscholastic programs and activities. All students should have the opportunity to participate in DCIAA and DCSAA activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on a student’s records or identification documents.

Physical Education All students must be permitted to participate in physical education classes and intramural sports in a manner consistent with their gender identity.

Gender Transitions

 

A transgender student who is ready to socially transition, regardless of whether the student is undergoing medical transition, may initiate a process to change how the student is addressed (preferred name, preferred pronoun), their attire, and access to preferred activities and facilities. Every student’s situation is different, so this process should begin with a meeting between the student and an administrator, counselor to discuss the type of supports the student is requesting. During this initial meeting, the counselor or administrator should also try to discover the extent to which the student’s parents are aware of the student’s gender identity. An initial meeting may or may not include the student’s parents, depending on individual circumstances and how the meeting was initiated. There may be situations where a student has not yet talked to their parents about their transgender status, but still makes a request for supports. These instances may be more common at the middle and high school levels, than at the elementary school level.

Schools should customize supports to optimize each student’s integration, and the supports must be documented. Both the student and the school should sign the document describing agreed-upon supports. Schools are encouraged to use the attached Student Support Plan for Gender Identity (Attachment A) as documentation of the established understanding between all parties about supports that have been agreed upon. Once a plan is established, the counselor or administrator should then follow up with the appropriate school personnel (as appropriate to the agreed-upon supports) to inform them of the student’s asserted gender identity and agreed-upon supports. As a student’s identity develops, their appropriate supports may change. The student or their parent/guardian may initiate a meeting with a counselor or school administrator to change the support plan, particularly if requested supports related to sex-segregated facilities will be affected by the change. A counselor or administrator should revisit the

5 Page 6 plan as needed, with the student (and parent, if involved) for continued appropriateness. Supports for transgender students should be applied consistently.


All students should have access to locker room, bathroom, and shower facilities that are safe, comfortable, and convenient. Absent a concern for safety, schools should permit a student to use the restrooms or locker rooms for which they identify with. If private or separate facilities are requested by any transgendered or non-transgendered student, the student should be provided with those facilities. Remember, a student cannot be forced to use a restroom for which they do not identify.


Many, though not all, transgender youth undergo the experience of gender transition. The term “gender transition” describes the experience by which a person goes from living and identifying as one gender to living and identifying as another. For most youth, and for all young children, the experience of gender transition involves no medical intervention. Rather, most transgender youth will undergo gender transition through a process commonly referred to as “social transition,” whereby they begin to live and identify as the gender consistent with their gender-related identity. Some transgender youth who are close to reaching puberty, or after commencing puberty, may complement social transition with medical intervention that may include hormone suppressants, cross-gender hormone therapy, and, for a small number of young people, a range of gender-confirming surgeries. The decision about whether and how to

undergo gender transition is personal and depends on the unique circumstances of each individual. There is no threshold medical or mental health diagnosis or treatment requirement that any student must meet in order to have his or her gender identity recognized and respected by a school.


Many, though not all, transgender youth undergo the experience of gender transition. The term “gender transition” describes the experience by which a person socially and/or physically aligns their gender expression more closely to their true gender identity, and away from that associated with their assigned sex at birth. For most youth, and for all young children, the experience of gender transition is focused solely on “social transition,” whereby they begin to live as the gender consistent with their gender-related identity. Transgender youth who are in the process of social gender transition often choose a new name and gender pronouns that better reflect their gender identity, may begin to dress and style their hair in ways that better reflect their gender identity, and, as all young people do, seek social affirmation of their gender identity from peers and other important figures in their lives. Some transgender youth who are close to reaching puberty, or after commencing puberty, may complement social transition with medical intervention that may include hormone suppressants, cross-gender hormone therapy, and, for a small number of young people, a range of gender-confirming surgeries. An individual’s decision about whether and how to undergo gender transition is personal and it will depend on the unique circumstances of each student. There is no threshold medical or mental health diagnosis or treatment requirement that any student must meet in order to have his/her/their gender identity recognized and respected by a school.

Some transgender and GNC students have not talked to their families about their gender identity for reasons including safety concerns or a lack of acceptance. School personnel should speak with the student first before discussing a student’s gender nonconformity or transgender status with the student’s parent or guardian. For the same reasons, school personnel should discuss with the student how the school should refer to the student, e.g., appropriate pronoun use, in written communication to the student’s parent or guardian.


School districts should work closely with the student and the student’s parents in devising an appropriate plan regarding the confidentiality of the student’s transgender identity. In some cases, transgender students may feel more supported and safe if other students are aware that they are transgender. In these cases, school district staff should work closely with the student, parents, and other staff members on a plan to inform and educate the student’s peers. It may also be appropriate for school districts to engage with community resources to assist with educational efforts.

For those students who have been attending a school and undergo gender transition while attending the same school, school districts in consultation with the student and parents should develop a plan for initiating use of the chosen name and pronouns consistent with the student’s gender identity.


Many, though not all, transgender youth undergo the experience of gender transition. The term “gender transition” describes the experience by which a person goes from living and identifying as one gender to living and identifying as another. For most young children, the experience of gender transition involves no medical treatment. Rather, most transgender youth will undergo gender transition through a process commonly referred to as “social transition,” whereby they begin to live and identify as the gender consistent with their gender-related identity. Some transgender youth who are close to reaching puberty, or after commencing puberty, may complement social transition with medical treatment that may include puberty blockers, cross-gender hormone therapy, and, for a small number of young people, a range of gender-confirming surgeries. The decision to undergo gender transition is personal and depends on the unique circumstances of each individual. There is no threshold medical or mental health diagnosis or treatment requirement that any student must meet in order to have his or her gender identity recognized and respected by a school (GLSEN, 2016). Thus, medical treatment should never be considered a requirement before a student can socially transition at school.

Some transgender and gender non-conforming students may hide or keep secret their gender identity at home because they may not feel safe or fear that they will not be accepted (Family Acceptance Project, 2009). School personnel should speak with the student first before discussing a student’s gender nonconformity or transgender status with the student’s parent(s) or guardian(s). For the same reasons, school personnel should discuss with the student how the school shall refer to the student, e.g., appropriate pronoun use, in written communication to the student’s parent(s) or guardian(s). Schools should not discuss a student’s gender identity with the parent(s) or guardians(s) if school personnel believe it may jeopardize the student’s physical or mental safety. GLSEN has found the following:

Elementary School: Generally, it will be the parent(s) or guardian(s) that inform the school of the student’s impending transition. However, it is not unusual for a student’s desire to transition to June, 2016 Page 6 first surface at school. If school staff believes that a gender identity or gender expression issue is presenting itself and creating difficulty for the child in school, approaching parent(s)/guardian(s) about the issue is appropriate at the elementary level. Together, the family and school can identify appropriate steps to support the student.

Secondary Schools: Generally, notification of a student’s parent(s)/guardian(s) about their gender identity, expression, or transition is unnecessary, as they are already aware and may be supportive. In some cases, however, notifying the family carries risks for the student, such as being kicked out of the home. School staff should work closely with the student to assess the degree to which, if any, the family will be involved in the process and must consider the health, well-being, and safety of the transitioning student.

When a student transitions during the school year, the school should ascertain the student’s (and their family) desires and concerns relating to transition. The school should discuss a timeline for the transition in order to create the conditions to provide a safe and supportive environment at the school. Finally, the school should train school administrators and any educators that interact directly with the student on the transition plan, timeline for transition, and any relevant legal requirements (GLSEN, 2015). School staff members should abide by the student’s/parent’s wishes concerning how a student would like to be addressed. This would include complying with school policies, as well as state and federal anti-discrimination, harassment and bullying laws and regulations designed to ensure that all students are treated with dignity and respect regardless of any individual’s strongly held belief to the contrary (National School Board Association, 2016).


In some cases, transgender and gender nonconforming students may feel more supported and safe if other students are aware of their gender identity. In these cases, school staff should work closely with the student, families and other staff members on a plan to inform and educate the student’s peers. It may also be appropriate to engage external resources to assist with educational efforts.


In order to maintain privacy and confidentiality regarding their transition and gender identity, transgender students may wish—but are not required—to transition over a summer break or between grades. Regardless of the timing of a student’s transition, the school shall act in accordance with the following developmentally appropriate protocols. These protocols are guidelines, but each student situation should be handled according to the maturity of each individual student, while still respecting that student’s rights.

Grades PK3-­‐5 Generally, the parent or guardian will inform the school of an impending transition. However, it would be appropriate to approach the family of an elementary school student if school staff believes that a gender identity or expression issue is presenting itself at school and creating difficulty for the student. Together, the family and school can then identify appropriate steps to support the student. A guide of community resources can be found in Appendix VII and a school-­‐level planning document can be found in Appendix III of this document.

District of Columbia Public Schools | June 2015 Page 6 of 38 Transgender and Gender-­‐Nonconforming Policy Guidance Grades 6-­‐12 Generally, notification from the student’s parents or guardians about their gender identity, gender expression, or transition is unnecessary, as they may already be aware and supportive. In some cases, however, notifying parents or guardians carries risks for the student, such as being kicked out of the home. Prior to notification of any parent or guardian regarding the transition process, school staff should work closely with the student to assess the degree to which, if any, the parent or guardian will be involved in the process and must consider the health, wellbeing, and safety of the transitioning student.


Not all gender-­‐nonconforming students identify as being transgender, so transition may look very different for each student and not all people who undergo a transition desire the same outcome. In most cases, transitioning is a very private matter. Students may choose to have their parents participate in this process; however parental participation is not required. When appropriate, schools should work closely with the student and family in devising an appropriate plan regarding the confidentiality of the student’s transgender status. A sample school planning tool is included in Appendix III. This planning tool provides a list of topics for a transitioning student to review with a trusted adult in the school and/or a school administrator. Please note that the student chooses who should be involved in these meetings. Privacy considerations also may vary with the age of the student. Please see below for additional guidance specific to elementary-­‐aged students. The contents of the plan should be discussed only with the persons who are responsible for implementing the plan. For example, the PE teacher should be notified that a student who had previously used a boys locker room would move into the girls area.

Information in the school planning tool contains personal notes about the student and is maintained by school officials involved in developing the school plan. Information should not be considered an official educational record under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). This means that information from the school planning tool may be shared with the student’s parents or guardians only if the student has expressed the desire to have their involvement, but parents are not entitled to access this information under FERPA.

State-Level Legal Interpretations

 

1. What is Assembly Bill (AB) 1266? AB 1266, also known as the “School Success and Opportunity Act,” was introduced by Assemblyman Tom Ammiano on February 22, 2013. It requires that pupils be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs, activities, and use facilities consistent with their gender identity, without respect to the gender listed in a pupil’s records. AB 1266 was approved by Governor Brown on August 12, 2013. According to Assemblyman Ammiano, “This bill is needed to ensure that transgender students are protected and have the same opportunities to participate and succeed as all other students.” “AB 1266 clarifies California’s student nondiscrimination laws by specifying that all students in K-12 schools must be permitted to participate in school programs, activities, and facilities in accordance with the student’s gender identity.”

As part of the analysis of AB 1266, Assemblyman Ammiano also stated, "Athletics and physical education classes, which are often segregated by sex, provide numerous well-documented positive effects for a student's physical, social, and emotional development. Playing sports can provide student athletes with important lessons about self-discipline, teamwork, success, and failure, as well as the joy and shared excitement that being a member of a sports team can bring. When transgender students are denied the opportunity to participate in physical education classes in a manner consistent with their gender identity, they miss out on these important benefits and suffer from stigmatization and isolation.

In addition, in many cases, students who are transgender are unable to get the credits they need to graduate on time when, for example, they do not have a place to get ready for gym class." 2. When did this law go into effect? AB 1266 became a provision within California Education Code, Section 221.5(f), on January 1, 2014. It is important to note that prior to the enactment of AB 1266, both state and federal law have prohibited gender-based discrimination for some time.

It is the policy of the State of California to afford all persons in public schools, regardless of their disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic that is contained in the definition of hate crimes set forth in Section 422.55 of the Penal Code, equal rights and opportunities in the educational institutions of the state. (Education Code Section 200.) No person shall be subjected to discrimination on the basis of disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or any other characteristic that is contained in the definition of hate crimes set forth in Section 422.55 of the Penal Code in any program or activity conducted by an educational institution that receives, or benefits from, state financial assistance or enrolls pupils who receive state student financial aid. (Education Code Section 220.)

Pre-existing state law prohibits public schools from discriminating on the basis of several characteristics, including sex, sexual orientation, and gender identity. Preexisting state law also requires that participation in a particular physical education activity or sport, if required of pupils of one sex, be available to pupils of each sex. AB 1266 requires a pupil be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs, activities, and facilities including athletic teams and competitions, consistent with his or her gender identity, regardless of the gender listed on the pupil's records.

As amended, Education Code Section 221.5(f) provides that “a pupil shall be permitted to participate in sex-segregated school programs and activities, including athletic teams and competitions, and use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.”


Colorado follows state anti-discrimination and civil rights laws and guidance. In 2008, Colorado passed a law (S.B. 08-2000) expanding prohibitions against discrimination. The law calls out the need to protect all regardless of “disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin, or ancestry” in all places of public accommodation. This law defines sexual orientation as “a person’s orientation toward heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or transgender status or another person’s perception thereof.”

In addition, the Colorado Civil Rights Commission issued rules (3 CCR 708-1) that state “All [public] covered entities shall allow individuals the proper use of gender-segregated facilities that are consistent with their gender identity. Gender-segregated facilities include but are not limited to, restrooms, locker rooms, dressing rooms and dormitories.” The term “gender identity” is in turn defined by the rules as follows: “Gender identity” means an innate sense of one’s own gender.” A Colorado court case in 2013 supported the right of a 6 year old transgender student in Fountain School district to use the restroom that aligned with her gender identity.

Colorado law also protects students from bullying. Colorado House Bill 11-1254, section 22-32-109 (1)(11)(I) defines bullying as “any written or verbal expression, or physical or electronic act or gesture, or pattern thereof, that is intended to coerce, intimidate, or cause any physical, mental, or emotional harm to any student” and states that “bullying is prohibited against any student for any reason” (page 9).


This Connecticut law – effective – October 1, 2011 prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in all areas and contexts in which the laws already prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex. This includes the areas of employment, public accommodations, the sale or rental and use of housing, the granting of credit, education and other laws including those over which the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) has jurisdiction. It explicitly authorizes people to file discrimination complaints with the CHRO, which enforces antidiscrimination laws in these areas. CHRO issued a declaratory ruling in 2000 holding that the prohibition against sex discrimination in the laws over which CHRO has jurisdiction, covers discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression making PA 11-55 a clarification of existing legal obligations.

 
Question: What was CHRO’s declaratory ruling in 2000? 
Answer: In 2000, the CHRO Commissioners issued a declaratory ruling concluding that CHRO has jurisdiction to investigate and process claims of discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in employment, public accommodations, housing (the sale, rental or use of property), and the extension of credit, because the status is covered under the prohibition against sex discrimination. Public Act 11-55 codifies this protection against discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in the statutes and explicitly authorizes the CHRO to investigate
1 Information regarding the law is presented for general informational purposes only. It should not be used as a substitute for consulting the updated statutes, for obtaining legal advice for specific issues pertaining to a situation or for calling the CHRO or other applicable entity to obtain additional or more specific information on particular questions,
and process complaints of discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression in these areas, including certain provisions beyond those specifically challenged in the petition leading to the declaratory ruling (such as in education). The act applies the same rules, procedures, and remedies that apply to other types of discrimination complaints, including the right for a complainant to obtain a release of jurisdiction of the state claim to file a lawsuit at court within the applicable statutory timeframes. (See Conn. Gen. Stat. §46a-100 to §46a-102, as amended by Public Act 11-237.)

 
Question: What does “gender identity or expression” mean? 
Answer: The act defines “gender identity or expression” as a person's gender-related identity, appearance, or behavior, whether or not that identity, appearance, or behavior differs from that traditionally associated with the person's physiology or assigned sex at birth. The definition specifies that gender-related identity can be shown by providing evidence in various ways, including (1) medical history, (2) care or treatment of the gender-related identity, (3) consistent and uniform assertion of such an identity, or (4) any other evidence that the identity is sincerely held, part of a person's core identity, or that the person is not asserting such an identity for an improper purpose. Although the law includes these as examples, they need not be shown in every case and are an illustrative list, not an exclusive one. In addition, the list suggests ways that a person’s gender-related identity “can be” shown, not that it must be. The law includes no examples of how a gender-related appearance or behavior may be shown. (See Conn. Gen. Stat. §46a-51(21), as amended by Public Act 11-55.)

 
Question: Are there exceptions to the law? 
Answer: Yes. The act contains a limited religious exception. The act’s prohibition of discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression does not apply to religious corporations, entities, associations, educational institutions, or societies regarding (1) employment of people to perform work for them or (2) matters of discipline; faith; internal organization; or ecclesiastical rules, customs, or laws that these entities have established.

 
Question: Can penalties be imposed and are damages recoverable when the law is violated? 
Answer: Yes. The act amends Conn. Gen. Stat. §46a-58(a) to include gender identify or expression and makes it a violation to deprive someone of rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by state or federal laws or constitutions because of the person's gender identity or expression. Criminal violations can be charged for criminal conduct. See Conn. Gen. Stat. §46a-58 and §53-37, as amended by Public Act 11-55. For example, the act makes it a class D felony for anyone to deprive someone of their rights under this section, based on gender identity or expression, while wearing a mask, hood or other device designed to conceal his or her identity. (See Conn. Gen. Stat. §53-37, as amended by Public Act 11-55.) The act makes it a class A misdemeanor to, on the basis of gender identity or expression, burn crosses or simulations thereof on or place nooses on any public property or on private property without the written consent of the owner. If property is damaged as a result of the conduct this would make the conduct a class D felony. (See Conn. Gen. Stat. §46a-58(e).) Criminal violations are processed by the local and state police departments and prosecuted by the CT State’s Attorney’s Office. 
When a complainant files a discrimination complaint with the CHRO and the case is processed to the point of being adjudicated in the CHRO’s Public Hearing proceedings, the CHRO Human Rights Referee is authorized to order civil penalties for some types of discriminatory conduct. For example, CHRO is authorized to award punitive damages in public accommodations discrimination violations and housing discrimination violations. Conn. Gen. Stat. §46a-64(c) and §46a-64c(g). Courts are also authorized to award punitive damages in some circumstances. (For example, see Conn. Gen. Stat. §46a-89(b) (discriminatory housing or public accommodations practices), §46a-98 (credit) and §46a-98a.) 
In CHRO’s Public Hearing proceedings, the CHRO Human Rights Referee is authorized to order monetary relief and other forms of affirmative relief, equitable and compensatory relief, when the referee determines that unlawful discrimination has occurred. (See Conn. Gen. Stat. §46a-86 et seq.) CHRO can also seek injunctive relief and other applicable relief through the court. (See Conn. Gen. Stat. §46a-89, §46a-89a and §46a-90). 
A person may obtain a release of jurisdiction from the CHRO and file a private action at court. (See Conn. Gen. Stat. §46a-100 to §46a-102, as amended by Public Act 11-237.) The court, ruling on the court case, is authorized to award “legal and equitable relief which it deems appropriate including, but not limited to, temporary or permanent injunctive relief, attorney’s fees and court costs.” (See Conn. Gen. Stat. §46a-104.)

 
Question: Are students in public schools protected by this law? 
Answer: Yes. The act requires public schools to be open to all children and to give them an equal opportunity to participate in school activities, programs, and courses of study without discrimination on account of gender identity or expression. (See Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-15c and §10a-6(b), as amended by Public Act 11-55.2) This act adds protections to the antidiscrimination statues in education similar to Public Act 97-247: An Act Concerning Revisions To The Education Statutes. Public Act 97-247, which added protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation to the list of kinds of discrimination prohibited against students in public schools. The other protected statuses are race, color, sex, religion and national origin. (See Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-15c, as amended by Public Act 11-55.) 
Public Act 11-55 also prohibits boards of education from discriminating on the basis of gender identity or expression in employing or paying teachers. (See Conn. Gen. Stat. §10-153, as amended by Public Act 11-55.) 
2 Also, see Public Act 11-232, An Act Concerning the Strengthening of School Bullying Laws. 3
Further under existing law, it is a discriminatory practice for anyone to deprive another person of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by Connecticut or federal laws or constitutions, or cause such a deprivation, because of religion, national origin, alienage, color, race, sex, sexual orientation, blindness, or physical disability. The act adds gender identity or expression to this list. By doing so, and by prohibiting discrimination against students on the basis of gender identity or expression in public schools with respect to activities, programs, and courses of study, the act authorizes CHRO to investigate claims of discrimination against students on the basis of gender identity or expression by public schools. 


State law (§§368-1, 489-2, and 489-3, Hawai`i Revised Statutes) which protects individuals from discrimination based on gender identity or expression in public accommodations, employment, housing, and access to services receiving state financial assistance.

• Title 8, Chapter 19 of the Hawai`i Administrative Rules which includes a prohibition against making verbal or non-verbal expressions that cause others to feel uncomfortable, pressured, threatened, or in danger because of reasons that include gender identity and expression.

In addition, the Hawai`i Department of Education’s mission is to develop the academic achievement, character, and social-emotional well-being of every child. The State needs to support all students in the development of their identities. Several Board of Education policies support this mission, including: • Policy E-3, Na Hopena A‘o: “The DOE works together as a system that includes everyone in the broader community to develop competencies that strengthen a sense of belonging, responsibility, excellence, aloha, total wellbeing and Hawaii.”

 • Policy 101.1, Student Code of Conduct: “Students are expected to be honest, behave with dignity and treat others with respect and courtesy. Behavior of the individual should not interfere with the rights of others. This includes the use of appropriate language, actions and attire. Students are expected not to harass others through any means.”

• Policy 101.6, Comprehensive Student Support System: “The BOE recognizes the importance of providing effective instruction in a safe, positive, caring and supportive learning environment…The DOE shall provide a comprehensive student support system framework to support the implementation, with fidelity of […] appropriate student support through an array of services.”

• Policy 106.5, Focus on Students: “The focus on the educational program for the public schools of Hawaii shall focus on the growth and development of each student.”

• Policy 305.10, Anti-Harassment, Anti-Bullying, and Anti-Discrimination Against Students by Employees: “The DOE strictly prohibits any form of harassment and/or bullying based on the following: gender identity and expression, socio economic status, physical appearance and characteristics and sexual orientation.” “A student shall not be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of or otherwise be subjected to harassment, bullying and discrimination under any program, services or activity of the DOE.”

Title 8, Chapter 6 of the Hawai`i Administrative Rules governs the confidentiality of personal records, including those of students.

• Title 8, Chapter 34 of the Hawai`i Administrative Rules governs the protection of the educational rights and privacy of students and parents.

• BOE Policy 500.21, Student Information and Confidential Records: “Information relating to individual students or former students in the public schools shall not be divulged or released by the Department of Education (Department) personnel, except as authorized by the individual student, parent, or guardian, permitted by the Department, or specified by law. Reports designated as “confidential” contain information of an intimate and personal nature, and shall be safeguarded and respected in accordance with professional ethics. Such reports shall not be placed in files of general accessibility. […] All public schools shall maintain individual files of permanent student records as required by the Department or by law.”


The Commission’s Education Rule, which is a joint rule enacted with the Department of Education, has not been updated in any significant way in the past 15 years. Even the most recent amendment, enacted in 2000, did not amend the rule to include all of the then-protected classes which had been added to the MHRA: while race, national origin, and disability had been added to the education provisions in the late 1980s, those classes are not mentioned in our current rule. Ten years ago, the education provisions of the MHRA were amended to make discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (which includes gender identity and gender expression) unlawful. Soon thereafter, the Commission applied the sexual orientation protections in a claim by a transgender student’s right to use the bathroom corresponding with her gender identity. The case became the subject of long-running litigation around the application of the MHRA’s sexual orientation provisions in education. Because of the litigation, the Commission held off on rulemaking. The litigation was finally concluded about two years ago. See Doe v. RSU 26, 2014 ME 11. In the wake of Doe, we received a number of inquiries about the rights of students under the MHRA, specifically with regard to sexual orientation issues.

While we would like to propose changes to the current Education Rule, that avenue is unavailable at the moment. The public is in need of guidance as to the application of the education provisions of the MHRA generally, and how the Commission interprets the Act with regard to sexual orientation discrimination in particular. Those issues are addressed below.


Maryland Education Code, Annotated Title 7 Public Schools, Subtitle 4, Health and Safety of Students §7-424 Requires reporting incidents of harassment or intimidation against students. Defines bullying, harassment, or intimidation as intentional conduct, including verbal, physical or written, or an intentional electronic communication that creates a hostile educational environment by substantially interfering with a student’s educational benefits, opportunities, or performance, or with a student’s physical or psychological well-being and is: (1) motivated by an actual or perceived personal characteristic including race, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, ancestry, physical attributes, socioeconomic status, familial status, or physical or mental ability or disability; or (2) threatening or seriously intimidating. The incident must: (1) occur on school property, at a school activity or event, or on a school bus; or (2) substantially disrupt the orderly operation of a school.

10/27/2015 Page 17 Code of Maryland Regulations, COMAR 13.A.01.04.03 Public School Standards, School Safety All students in Maryland’s public schools, without exception and regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, language, socioeconomic status, age or disability, have the right to education environments that are safe, appropriate for academic achievement, and free from any form of harassment. Md. Code Ann., Health-Gen §4-211. Vital Records-New Certificates of Birth-Sex Change or Diagnosis of an Intersex Condition. As of October 1, 2015 individuals can update the sex listed on their birth certificate by submitting a letter to Maryland Vital Records from a licensed health care practitioner stating that the individual has had appropriate clinical treatment for gender transition or has been diagnosed with an intersex condition.


An Act Relative to Gender Identity (Chapter 199 of the Acts of 2011),1 which became effective on July 1, 2012, amended several Massachusetts statutes prohibiting discrimination on the basis of specified categories, to include discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Among the statutes amended is G.L. c. 76, § 5, prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity against students who enroll in or attend the public schools. G.L. c. 76, §5 now reads as follows: Every person shall have a right to attend the public schools of the town where he actually resides, subject to the following section. No school committee is required to enroll a person who does not actually reside in the town unless said enrollment is authorized by law or by the school committee. Any person who violates or assists in the violation of this provision may be required to remit full restitution to the town of the improperly-attended public schools. No person shall be excluded from or discriminated against in admission to a public school of any town, or in obtaining the advantages, privileges and courses of study of such public school on account of race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin or sexual orientation. (Emphasis added)

In June 2012, the Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (Board) adopted revised Access to Equal Education Opportunity Regulations, 603 CMR 26.00, and Charter School Regulations, 603 CMR 1.00, to reflect the broadened student anti-discrimination provision in G.L. c. 76, §5. The Board also directed the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (Department) to provide guidance to school districts to assist in implementing the gender identity provision.

The gender identity law amended G.L. c. 76, § 5,2 to establish that no person shall be excluded from or discriminated against in admission to a public school of any town, or in obtaining the advantages, privileges and courses of study of such public school on account of gender identity, among other characteristics. The amended Access to Equal Educational Opportunity regulations, 603 CMR 26.00, and the non-discrimination provision of the Charter School 2 The Act amends several other statutes as well, including G.L. c. 151B (governing nondiscrimination in employment), to prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

Regulations, 603 CMR 1.00, require schools to establish policies and procedures, provide training, and implement and monitor practices to ensure that obstacles to equal access to school programs are removed for all students, including transgender and gender nonconforming students. All districts and schools should review existing policies, handbooks, and other written materials to ensure that they are updated to reflect the new law. At a minimum, this means including the category of “gender identity” within the identification of legally protected characteristics. For example:

Public Schools strives to provide a safe, respectful, and supportive learning environment in which all students can thrive and succeed in its schools. The [ The [ ] Public Schools prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, gender identity, religion, national origin, or sexual orientation and ensures that all students have equal rights of access and equal enjoyment of the opportunities, advantages, privileges, and courses of study.


The Minnesota Human Rights Act (https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=363a) prohibits discrimination and harassment in education based on gender expression, actual or perceived gender identity and actual or perceived sexual orientation.9 Minnesota law provides that all students have the right to attend school in a safe and supportive environment where they can learn and have equal access to all educational opportunities.10 Illegal discrimination can occur if a student is expressly denied full utilization of a benefit at school, is indirectly denied full utilization of a benefit at school due to a policy, practice or procedure of the school or if a student is exposed to a hostile environment that interferes with the student’s ability to learn or participate in activities at school.

The Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act11 (https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/?id=363a) prohibits bullying and harassment of all students, including bullying and harassment of students based on gender expression, actual or perceived gender identity and actual or perceived sexual orientation. Under the Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act, public school districts and charter schools are required to adopt a policy that prohibits bullying and harassment of all students, including bullying and harassment based on sex, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation.12 Bullying may also rise to the level of a discriminatory hostile educational environment under Title IX or the Minnesota Human Rights Act.


New York State Education Law § 3201-a prohibits discrimination based on sex with respect to admission into or inclusion in courses of instruction and athletic teams in public schools.2 Furthermore, DASA specifically provides that “no student shall be subjected to harassment or bullying by employees or students on school property or at a school function; nor shall any student be subjected to discrimination based on a person's actual or perceived race, color, weight, national origin, ethnic group, religion, religious practice, disability, sexual orientation, gender (including gender identity or expression), or sex by school employees or students on school property or at a school function.”3 DASA includes gender as a protected category and defines gender as “a person’s actual or perceived sex and includes a person’s gender expression.”


Under Oregon law, “[a] person may not be subjected to discrimination in any public elementary, secondary or community college education program or service, school or interschool activity or in any higher education program or service, school or interschool activity where the program, service, school or activity is financed in whole or in part by moneys appropriated by the Legislative Assembly.”1 Discrimination includes “any act that unreasonably differentiates treatment, intended or unintended, or any act that is fair in form but discriminatory in operation, either of which is based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, age or disability.”2 Oregon law broadly defines, “sexual orientation” as an individual’s actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or gender identity, regardless of whether the individual’s gender identity, appearance, expression or behavior differs from that traditionally associated with the individual’s sex at birth.

Under Oregon law, school districts are required to provide a free appropriate public education to all students who are resident within the district. 12 Students “may not be subjected to discrimination in any public elementary, secondary or community college education program or service, school or interschool activity or in any higher education program or service, school or interschool activity where the program, service, school or activity is financed in whole or in part by moneys appropriated by the Legislative Assembly.”13 Discrimination includes “any act that unreasonably differentiates treatment, intended or unintended, or any act that is fair in form but discriminatory in operation, either of which is based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, age or disability.”14 “Sexual orientation means an individual’s actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or gender identity, regardless of whether the individual’s gender identity, appearance, expression or behavior differs from that traditionally associated with the individual’s sex at birth.

As cited previously in this document Oregon state law prohibits discrimination by public education providers based on an “individual’s actual or perceived heterosexuality, homosexuality, bisexuality or gender identity, regardless of whether the individual’s gender identity, appearance, expression or behavior differs from that traditionally associated with the individual’s sex at birth.”26 While we are unaware of any Oregon court cases which have interpreted this language, courts from other states have ruled on similar language from their own state laws and have found that this language provides protections for transgender students including the use of a bathroom consistent with the student’s gender identity.

Oregon law requires all school districts to “adopt a policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation or bullying and prohibiting cyberbullying.” 30 This policy must require school district employees to report acts of harassment, intimidation or bullying or an act of cyberbullying to a person identified by the district.31 This includes harassment, intimidation or bullying against transgender students. Under Oregon law ,“harassment, intimidation or bullying” means any act that: (a) ) Substantially interferes with a student’s educational benefits, opportunities

or performance; (b) Takes place on or immediately adjacent to school grounds, at any school- sponsored activity, on school-provided transportation or at any official school bus stop; (c) Has the effect of: (A) Physically harming a student or damaging a student’s property; (B) Knowingly placing a student in reasonable fear of physical harm to the student or damage to the student’s property; or (C) Creating a hostile educational environment, including interfering with the psychological well-being of a student; and (d) May be based on, but not be limited to, the protected class status of a person.32

Oregon law goes on to define “protected class” as a group of persons distinguished, or perceived to be distinguished, by race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, familial status, source of income or disability.33 28 ORS 659.850(2). 29 18 Jaime M. Grant, et al., National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 3, 45 (2011). http://www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/reports/reports/ntds_full.pdf

30 ORS 339.356 31 ORS 339.356 32 ORS 339.351 33 ORS 339.351 12 Required school district policies must include how the district will publicize the policy within the district including making it readily available to parents, school employees, students and others. 34 School district employees and parents should work together to resolve complaints alleging harassment, bullying or intimidation based on a student’s actual or perceived gender identity or expression.

Oregon law requires all school districts to “adopt a policy prohibiting harassment, intimidation or bullying and prohibiting cyberbullying.” 30 This policy must require school district employees to report acts of harassment, intimidation or bullying or an act of cyberbullying to a person identified by the district.31 This includes harassment, intimidation or bullying against transgender students. Under Oregon law ,“harassment, intimidation or bullying” means any act that: (a) ) Substantially interferes with a student’s educational benefits, opportunities

or performance; (b) Takes place on or immediately adjacent to school grounds, at any school- sponsored activity, on school-provided transportation or at any official school bus stop; (c) Has the effect of: (A) Physically harming a student or damaging a student’s property; (B) Knowingly placing a student in reasonable fear of physical harm to the student or damage to the student’s property; or (C) Creating a hostile educational environment, including interfering with the psychological well-being of a student; and (d) May be based on, but not be limited to, the protected class status of a person.32

Oregon law goes on to define “protected class” as a group of persons distinguished, or perceived to be distinguished, by race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, familial status, source of income or disability.33 28 ORS 659.850(2). 29 18 Jaime M. Grant, et al., National Center for Transgender Equality and National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, 3, 45 (2011). http://www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/reports/reports/ntds_full.pdf

30 ORS 339.356 31 ORS 339.356 32 ORS 339.351 33 ORS 339.351 12 Required school district policies must include how the district will publicize the policy within the district including making it readily available to parents, school employees, students and others. 34 School district employees and parents should work together to resolve complaints alleging harassment, bullying or intimidation based on a student’s actual or perceived gender identity or expression.


In December 2010, The Rhode Island Board of Regents revised its Policy Statement on Discrimination Based on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity/Expression which includes the following language: The Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education recognizes that all educational agencies must provide all people and groups with full access to educational opportunities and barriers to student participation based on sexual orientation or gender identity/expression must be identified and removed. The Board also recognizes that all students, without exception, have the right to attend a school in which they feel safe and able to express their identity without fear.

Article I, Section 2 of the Rhode Island Constitution states in part that “No otherwise qualified person shall, solely by reason of race, gender or handicap be June, 2016 Page 3 subject to discrimination by the state, its agents or any person or entity doing business with the state.” RIGL §11-24-2 Discriminatory practices prohibited. In May, 2001, Rhode Island became the second state in the country to explicitly prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity or expression, thereby protecting transgender people from discrimination in employment, housing, credit, and public accommodations (R.I. Pub. L. 2001, ch. 340). The law defines gender identity or expression as including a person’s “actual or perceived gender, as well as a person’s gender identity, gender-related self-image, gender-related appearance, or gender-related expression, whether or not that gender identity is different from that traditionally associated with the person’s sex at birth.” R.I. Gen. Laws, §§ 28-5-6 (employment); 34-37-3 (housing); 11-24-2.1 (public accommodations).

RIGL §16-38-1.1 Discrimination because of sex states in part that “Discrimination on the basis of sex is hereby prohibited in all public elementary and secondary schools in the state . . .” The state statute is essentially a restatement of the federal Title IX. RIGL§16-71-3 Educational records access and review rights-Confidentiality of records, similar to FERPA, safeguards the right of privacy of student education records. It applies only to public schools. RIGL §16-2-17 Right to a safe school asserts that each student, staff member, teacher, and administrator has a right to attend and/or work at a school which is safe and secure, and which is conducive to learning, and which is free from the threat, actual or implied, of physical harm by a disruptive student.

RIGL §16-21-34 Safe Schools Act and the RI Statewide Bullying Policy, recognize that the bullying of a student creates a climate of fear and disrespect that can seriously impair the student's health and negatively affect learning. Bullying undermines the safe learning environment that students need to achieve their full potential. The expression, physical act or gesture may include, but is not limited to, an incident or incidents that may be reasonably perceived as being motivated by characteristics such as race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression or mental, physical, or sensory disability, intellectual ability or by any other distinguishing characteristic. The purpose of the policy is to ensure a consistent and unified statewide approach to the prohibition of bullying at school.


State Policy It is the policy of the State of Vermont that all Vermont educational institutions provide safe, orderly, civil, and positive learning environments. Harassment, hazing and bullying have no place and will not be tolerated in Vermont schools. No Vermont student should feel threatened or be discriminated against while enrolled in a Vermont school. 16 V.S.A. § 570. State Law An owner or operator of a place of public accommodation or an agent or employee of such owner or operator shall not, because of race, creed, color, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity of any person, refuse, withhold from, or deny to that person any of the accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges of the place of public accommodation. 9 V.S. A. § 4502(a).

Discrimination/Harassment Harassment of a student on the basis of sex can limit or prevent a student from participating in or receiving educational benefits, services or opportunities. Gender-based harassment may include acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression, intimidation, or hostility based on sex or sex stereotyping. For example, harassing a student for failing to conform to stereotypical masculine or feminine notions or behaviors constitutes sex discrimination. Complaints alleging discrimination or harassment based on a person’s actual or perceived transgender status, gender identity or gender nonconformity should be handled in accordance with the Policy on the Prevention of Harassment, Hazing and Bullying of Students. Schools are required to adopt a policy for the prevention of harassment as least as stringent at the Secretary of Education’s model policy. 16 V.S.A. § 570(b). The Secretary’s model policy can be found here:

http://education.vermont.gov/student-support/healthy-and-safe-schools/school-climate#hhbmodel-policy Vermont law defines harassment at 16 V.S.A. §11a(26(A): “Harassment” means an incident or incidents of verbal, written, visual, or physical conduct, including any incident conducted by electronic means, based on or motivated by a student’s or a student’s family member’s actual or perceived race, creed, color, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or disability that has the purpose or effect of objectively and substantially undermining and detracting from or interfering with a student’s educational performance or access to school resources or creating an objectively intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.


Civil rights laws prohibit discrimination and discriminatory harassment on the basis of gender expression and gender identity in Washington public schools. Chapter 28A.642 RCW | Chapter 392­190 WAC | Chapter 49.60 RCW