Federal Government Approves School Policy Respecting Transgender Students

Federal Government Approves School Policy Respecting Transgender Students

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39f68a448e648b81_640_studentsOn Friday, July 10, 2015, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice approved the Arcadia Unified School District’s long-awaited policy on transgender students. The policy – going into effect immediately – provides strong guidance to school administrators and educators, which will help ensure that all students, including transgender students, can learn in a safe and welcoming school environment.

The new policy instructs schools to accept each student’s self-reported gender identity and explains that there are no “medical or mental health diagnosis or treatment threshold that students must meet in order to have their gender identity recognized and respected.” The new guide also mandates that “school personnel must be mindful of the confidentiality and privacy rights of students when communicating with others, so as to not reveal, imply, or refer to a student’s gender identity or expression” and that “students shall be addressed by the name and pronoun that corresponds to their gender identity asserted at school without obtaining a court order, changing their official records or obtaining parent/legal guardian permission.” The policy also provides that transgender students must have access to the restrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their asserted gender identity.

National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Staff Attorney and lead attorney in Student v. Arcadia Unified School District, Asaf Orr said: “The federal government’s approval of this policy further solidifies the right of transgender students to be affirmed and respected in school. We commend both the federal government and the Arcadia Unified School District for taking this important step. We look forward continuing to strengthen legal protections for transgender students by assisting school districts throughout the country in adopting policies that safeguard the right of transgender students to go to school in a safe and welcoming environment.”

The full text of the policy is available here.

The Arcadia Unified School District developed this policy in response to a complaint filed by the NCLR on behalf of a transgender student who was being denied access to the boys’ facilities and prohibited from rooming with his male peers on an overnight field trip. That complaint resulted in an historic resolution agreement and recognition by the federal government that Title IX requires schools to permit transgender students to use the sex-separated facilities that match the student’s gender identity.

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