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 firstname.lastname@example.org.