The National Center for Transgender Equality and the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN) have released an update to a resource originally released in 2011, “Model District Policy on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students.” The resource provides sample policy language to assist school districts in becoming more inclusive of transgender and gender nonconforming students.
The resource comes at a critical time as schools grapple with ways to improve their treatment of transgender students. This week, the California Senate sent Governor Jerry Brown a bill clarifying that schools must permit all students to access school facilities and activities consistent with their gender identity. Last month, Colorado’s civil rights division concluded that Fort Carson School District discriminated against a transgender girl who was denied use of the girl’s restroom at school. And soon, Maine’s highest court will issue a decision on whether a school district violated the state’s Human Rights Act when they required a transgender student to use a staff restroom.
Experiences like these stigmatize transgender students and significantly affect students’ ability to succeed in school. According to GLSEN’s 2011 National School Climate Survey, transgender students who experienced high levels of harassment have significantly lower GPAs, are more likely to miss school due to safety concerns, and are more likely to report that they were not planning on going to college, than those who experienced lower levels of harassment. Even more devastating, data from the National Transgender Discrimination Survey conducted by NCTE and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force revealed that 51% of transgender people who were harassed or bullied in school reported attempting suicide.
To address these problems, it is critical for school districts to incorporate policies that promote safety, privacy, and full inclusion for transgender and gender non-conforming students. The model policy is designed to be adaptable to fit the needs of individual school districts and is flexible enough to allow districts to comply with state and local laws.
The model policy covers key issues faced by transgender and gender-nonconforming students, including:
- Bullying, harassment and discrimination
- Privacy and confidentiality
- Documentation (e.g., school records)
- Names and pronouns
- Equal access to gender-segregated activities and areas
- Dress codes
- Training and professional development
With this resource, school districts can be better equipped to address the safety and privacy concerns of their transgender and gender non-conforming students. Ultimately, with improved and inclusive school policies, school districts can avoid discrimination suits while also ensuring that all students have fair and safe learning environments.
We are also reminding students, parents, and their supporters that no matter where you live, you can file a complaint of sex discrimination in a school or university with the U.S. Department of Education. Bullying, harassment, or discrimination against transgender or gender non-conforming students is covered by Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. NCTE’s resource, “Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Students: Know Your Rights at School,” explains how anyone can file a complaint under Title IX or under state or local laws.
Download the Model District Policy here.