Federal Guidance on Single-Sex Classes Confirms Schools Must Respect Every Student’s Gender Identity

December 2, 2014

The US Department of Education issued guidance further confirming that schools must respect a student’s gender identity in matters such as taking single-sex classes. As in previous federal guidance, transgender students were addressed as part of a larger document dealing with a specific issue – in this case, when and how K-12  school may offer single-sex classes.

Consistent with prior actions by the Department, the guidance states:

“Under Title IX, a recipient [of federal funds, which includes most schools] generally must treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity in all aspects of the planning, implementation, enrollment, operation, and evaluation of single-sex classes.”

Department of Education building

Read the rest of this entry »

Ed Dept. Resolves Title IX Trans Student Discrimination Case

November 4, 2014

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) applauds the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) and the Downey Unified School District for its resolution of a Title IX discrimination complaint filed by a transgender student against the school district. This resolution marks another crucial step towards ensuring that all students, regardless of their gender identity or expression, are afforded the same rights and protections in their schools.  

The student, a young transgender girl, filed the original complaint alleging that the school failed to respond to her complaints regarding verbal harassment, she was subjected to, disciplined the student for wearing make up, discouraged her from speaking about her gender identity to her classmates, and suggested that she transfer. Under their agreement, Downey Unified School District will ensure that the student is able to access the same facilities as other female students, and continue her education without fear of being disciplined based on her gender identity and expression. Additionally, Downey Unified has committed to ensure that all gender nonconforming and transgender students have access to a safe learning environment. 


Read the rest of this entry »

NCTE Director of Policy to Her Own High School: Respect Trans Students

May 15, 2014

​The following is a letter NCTE Director of Policy Harper Jean Tobin wrote to J.M. Atherton High School in Louisville, KY—her alma mater. While Tobin didn’t come out and transition until college, another young transgender woman there has transitioned in school. Despite initial support on campus, complaints by an outside hate group and a small handful of community members have resulted in her restroom use being restricted.

This afternoon, a local school committee will vote on whether the school will follow the federal Title IX law by prohibiting discrimination against transgender students.

While there are similar stories from all over the country, this one is personal. Most of Tobin’s family still lives in Louisville, as do so many of her old Atherton friends. After speaking with the current principal Tobin wrote this letter to Principal Aberli and the members of the school committee.

Read the letter here and please join NCTE in urging Atherton High School in standing up for all students.

View this document on Scribd

BREAKING: NCTE Celebrates Failure of Attempt to Repeal CA School Success and Opportunity Act

February 24, 2014

A final tally of collected signatures reaffirmed California voters’ belief that all students, including transgender students, should succeed in school. Consistent with federal regulations, this law underscores school’s mandate to ensure that all students have their needs met by school administrators and teachers.

The National Center for Transgender Equality (NCTE) applauds the failure of the referendum effort but remains vigilant of legal challenges to the signature count. In response to this developing news, NCTE Executive Director Mara Keisling issued the following statement:

“We are very happy with today’s outcome upholding the majority of Californians’ belief that transgender students deserve a fair shot at doing well in school. School administrators and teachers in California had already been making the appropriate adjustments to achieve that even before this law took effect. And our view, along with the views of many parents, administrators and teachers in California, is that transgender kids should have the same education as all our kids. Doing that means making the right tweaks in school programs and functions so that transgender students can be who they are in schools without fear or limitation. NCTE celebrates this important step and we’ll closely monitor legal challenges to the vote count as they develop.”

Pro-repeal efforts needed 504,760 valid signatures in order to qualify the law for the November ballot, however only 487,484 were found to valid.


9 Things President Obama Can Do to Address Trans Economic Inquality

January 28, 2014

Today, ahead of the annual State of the Union speech,  President Barack Obama took an important step addressing income inequality by raising the minimum wage of new federal workers to $10.10, helping to ease the financial burden of more than 2 million employees. The National Center for Transgender Equality welcomes this executive order and urges legislators to take action to raise wages for all low-wage workers in the United States.

However, addressing America’s deepening economic divide, especially for transgender workers who face twice the rate of unemployment as the general population, requires swift action on many other policy areas. The Center has compiled our list of 9 policy matters that the Obama Administration can address without Congressional approval that would go far in closing the economic divide of transgender Americans.

1) Sign an executive order banning LGBT discrimination among businesses that contract with the federal government. Doing so would protect 1 in 5 American workers from job discrimination.

2) The Department of Labor should identify, promote and fund best practices for helping transgender people enter or re-enter the workforce.

3) Each federal department and independent agency should adopt a formal policy prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation in its programs, activities, and funding.

4) The Department of Labor should include gender identity and sexual orientation measures in economic surveys including the Current Population Survey and the Survey on Income and Program.

5) The Department of Justice should vigorously enforce the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA) to help end sexual abuse of transgender people in jails, prisons, and police lock-ups, and ensure transgender inmates are treated safely and respectfully. Enforcement of strong PREA rules helps ensure formerly incarcerated transgender people can smoothly re-integrate into American society and find jobs.

6) President Obama should pressure House Speaker John Boehner to heed the call of a majority of Americans (80%) who support strong LGBT workplace protections by putting the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to a vote.

7) Provide a path to citizenship for the estimated quarter of a million undocumented immigrants who are transgender or LGB by passing commonsense immigration reform.

8) The Department of Homeland Security should expand the use of alternatives to secure detention and end the detention of asylum-seekers, LGBT people, people with HIV, and other vulnerable groups.

9) The Department of Education should issue guidance clarifying the application of Title IX nondiscrimination protections to transgender and gender nonconforming youth, including the right of transgender students to dress, access school facilities, programs and campus housing, and otherwise be treated in accord with their gender identity in a respectful and confidential manner.


NCTE Applauds Federal School Discipline Guidance

January 8, 2014

NCTE applauds the U.S. Department of Education for today releasing groundbreaking federal guidance that presses for non-discriminatory and non-exclusionary school discipline policies. The Department’s guidance recognizes that many schools’ heavy reliance on suspension, expulsion, and law enforcement is doing more harm than good and frequently has discriminatory effects. While the disproportionate impact of “zero tolerance” policies on youth of color is now well known, research has also shown that LGBT youth are also at risk of disproportionate discipline and exclusion. Transgender and gender nonconforming students are often disciplined solely for their gender expression, and in the National Transgender Discrimination Survey 6% of transgender adults said they had been expelled from school because of their gender identity or expression.

Today’s guidance sends a clear message to schools across the country that the age of simplistic zero-tolerance policies must end, and provides a path to more positive practices that schools can easily understand and follow. While we’re disappointed that the guidelines do not specifically address the impacts on and rights of LGBT students, the principles outlined by the Department apply equally to discriminatory treatment toward LGBT youth. This is a victory for all students. We encourage LGBT youth, families, allies, and advocates to use this guidance as a tool to press for better approaches in their own communities.

In December, NCTE joined GLSEN, GSA Network and other LGBT advocates in submitting testimony to the Senate Judiciary Committee on the school-to-prison pipeline. In that testimony, we said:

In recent years there has been an unprecedented conflation of school discipline policy and sanctions traditionally reserved for the juvenile justice system. In fact, the connection between school discipline and the juvenile courts has become so close that it led to the coining of the phrase “school-to-prison pipeline.”  …We firmly believe that the increasing use of exclusionary discipline and zero tolerance policies in our schools is the wrong approach and contributes to unhealthy school climates, strengthens, rather than dismantles the school-to-prison pipeline and may be a contributing factor to the disproportionally high numbers of LGBT youth in custody.

We urge schools everywhere to take this guidance to heart, and recommit themselves to creating an environment where all students are valued and can succeed. The Department of Education guidance documents can be found here. Educators, students, parents, and advocates are also encouraged to consult the NCTE/GLSEN Model School District Policy on Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students and our resource Your Rights at School, which outlines the rights of LGBT students to file civil rights complaints with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.

Effort to Repeal CA School Success and Opportunity Act Fails to Qualify in Initial Count; Heads to Full Count

January 8, 2014

Today, the California Secretary of State announced that California’s School Success and Opportunity Act, a law that gives transgender students equal footing to participate in school activities and access facilities, has failed to qualify for a referendum pending a full count of all signatures. Pro-repeal groups were 22,178 signatures short of the 504,760 needed to qualify in the first count, though they may still qualify for a referendum in the full count.

In light of this development, National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling said:

“Californians are fair-minded people who’ve already stood behind school policies like this one even before this law went into effect. The School Success and Opportunity Act reaffirms what has happened at the federal level and in school districts nationwide. That’s why we are optimistic that, though the initiative heads to a full count, that the law will ultimately remain in place to ensure all students have the opportunity to succeed in school.”

“Transgender and gender non-conforming students are part of the fabric that makes California schools great and Californians should be proud of leading in terms of giving every student a fair chance at succeeding in school, playing on sports teams, and participating in school activities.”

California county clerks have until February 24, 2014 (30 working days from today) to verify all signatures.

To learn more, please visit www.supportallstudents.org.

NCTE’s Mara Keisling Talks CA Equal Access Law on NPR

January 7, 2014

Today, National Center for Transgender Equality Executive Director Mara Keisling joined Michel Martin of NPR’s Tell Me More to discuss issues facing transgender kids in public schools, and California’s law allowing transgender students fair and equal access to school activities and facilities. Keisling was joined by Gayle Trotter, a conservative columnist and Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum; Melanie Mason, a reporter covering this law for the LA Times; and Jennifer Savage, a parent of a gender non-conforming child.

Though Trotter agrees that efforts should be made to accommodate transgender and gender non-conforming students fairly, she repeated outdated talking points on the unfairness of the law for student athletes and for maintaining a sense of modesty for children in restrooms.

Trotter said:

“I think there’s also a really important part of school is being to teach the truth and to understand bodily integrity. And when we have this type of ideological law that’s trying to push these types of ideas to young children, who are still very impressionable, trying to understand the world, then it’s harmful not only to the children who are dealing with these sensitive issues, but also the other children who are trying to draw truth from school and to understand how the world works.”

Keisling responded:

Well, the NCAA has looked at this really carefully. They have really good guidelines, they have studied and studied and studied that. And, you know, I just have to kind of call out Gayle’s use of the word truth. What she’s talking about is her truth. And in her truth, gender nonconforming children, like the 7-year-old we just heard about, don’t really exist. And transgender people don’t really exist. Transgender people are perpetrating some sort of fraud in that version of the truth. And, you know, in reality, we have these kids who don’t fit in who can’t follow that false truth, that discriminatory old-fashioned non-truth truth. So you have to be able to get to the point where you understand that a transgender girl is a girl.

And if you’re not willing to accept that even though her parents have accepted it, the medical community has accepted it, everybody in the world has accepted it, you’re never going to understand that the school districts aren’t bothered by this law. They like how it is. Several of the largest school districts had already had these policies in place – Los Angeles, San Francisco, Santa Monica and some others – and more and more have implemented them because the truth for these schools is there are transgender kids and they want transgender kids to have access to programs and facilities so they work on it. They work on it on a case-by-case basis with the students and sometimes the parents because that’s the real truth.

Learn more about the effort to keep this law on the books here.

Listen to the full interview here.