The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) applauds California’s Arcadia Unified School District, the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), and the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education for successfully resolving a Title IX sex discrimination complaint brought by a transgender student. This settlement represents yet another marker of progress in the rights of transgender students, and all transgender people.
Under the agreement, the district will ensure that the student is treated as male in all respects and keep his transgender status private as he enters high school. This is consistent with existing policies and laws in a numerous states and school systems around the country.
NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin comments: “It is impossible to overstate the importance of being able to come to school, focus on learning and participating in school life, and simply be who you are, without being excluded, ridiculed, or stigmatized because of who you are. All students deserve that opportunity.”
The student, a young transgender man, and his family filed a complaint in 2011 after being relegated to a cabin by himself rather than rooming with his male peers on an overnight field trip. The student was also excluded from the boys’ restrooms and locker room and forced to use the nurse’s office. This resulted in the student being questioned and ridiculed by other students, missing after-school activities, and avoiding using the restroom whenever possible. The student and his family are represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
We applaud the student and his family for coming forward, NCLR for ably representing them, the federal agencies involved for pursuing a just result, and the school district for ultimately doing the right thing. We hope that this resolution will set an example for school districts around the country, and that students, families, and their supporters take this opportunity to educate school officials about the lives transgender young people. We encourage anyone who has experienced discrimination based on gender identity or gender stereotypes in an educational setting to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights or with their state or local civil rights agency. You can use NCTE’s Your Rights at School resource to learn more about existing protections and filing Title IX complaints, and use the NCTE/GLSEN Model School District Policy to advocate for stronger policies in your school district.
This is a strong resolution to a serious case of discrimination, which hopefully will set a tone for other schools and encourage other students and families to come forward. At the same time, this case only underscores the need for Congress to pass the Student Nondiscrimination Act in order to send an unequivocal message and secure ironclad protections for all LGBT students nationwide.