Skip to main content

Full text of "ERIC ED572043: Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students"

See other formats


Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices 
for Supporting Transgender Students 



U.S. Department of Education 

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education 

Office of Safe and Healthy Students 

May 2016 



U.S. Department of Education 

Office of Elementary and Secondary Education 

Office of Safe and Healthy Students 


Ann Whalen 

Senior Advisor to the Secretary, Delegated the Duties of the Assistant Secretary, Office of Elementary and 
Secondary Education 

David Esquith 

Director, Office of Safe and Healthy Students 
May 2016 

This resource is in the public domain. Authorization to reproduce it in whole or in part is granted. The guide's 
citation should be: 

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Elementary and Secondary Education, Office of Safe and Healthy Students, 
Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students (May 2016). 

This guide is also available on the Office of Safe and Healthy Students website at 

www.ed.gov/oese/oshs/emergingpractices.pdf . Any updates to this guide will be available at this website. 

If you need technical assistance, please contact the Office of Safe and Healthy Students at: 
OESE.lnfo.SupportingTransgenderStudents@ed.gov 


Availability of Alternate Formats 

Requests for documents in alternate formats such as Braille or large print should be submitted to the Alternate 
Format Center by calling 202-260-0852 or by contacting the 504 coordinator via e-mail at om eeos@ed.gov . 

Notice to Limited English Proficient Persons 

If you have difficulty understanding English you may request language assistance services for Department 
information that is available to the public. These language assistance services are available free of charge. If you 
need more information about interpretation or translation services, please call 1-800-USA-LEARN (1-800-872- 
5327) (TTY: 1-800-437-0833), or e-mail us at ED.Language.Assistance@ed.gov. Or write to U.S. Department of 
Education, Information Resource Center, LBJ Education Building, 400 Maryland Ave. SW, Washington, DC 20202. 


Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students 


The U.S. Department of Education ("ED") is committed to providing schools with the 
information they need to provide a safe, supportive, and nondiscriminatory learning 
environment for all students. It has come to ED's attention that many transgender students 
(i.e., students whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth) 
report feeling unsafe and experiencing verbal and physical harassment or assault in school, and 
that these students may perform worse academically when they are harassed. School 
administrators, educators, students, and parents are asking questions about how to support 
transgender students and have requested clarity from ED. In response, ED developed two 
documents: 

• ED's Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division 
jointly issued a Dear Colleague Letter ("DCL") about transgender students' rights and 
schools' legal obligations under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. 1 Any 
school that has questions related to transgender students or wants to be prepared to 
address such issues if they arise should review the DCL. 

• ED's Office of Elementary and Secondary Education compiled the attached examples of 
policies 2 and emerging practices 3 that some schools are already using to support 
transgender students. We share some common questions on topics such as school 
records, privacy, and terminology, and then explain how some state and school district 
policies have answered these questions. We present this information to illustrate how 
states and school districts are supporting transgender students. We also provide 
information about and links to those policies at the end of the document, along with 
other resources that may be helpful as educators develop policies and practices for their 
own schools. 


1 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681-1688; Dear Colleague Letter: Transgender Students (May 13, 2016), 
www.ed.gov/ocr/letters/col league-201605-title-ix-transgender.pdf . 

2 In this document, the term policy or policies refers generally to policies, guidance, guidelines, procedures, 
regulations, and resource guides issued by schools, school districts, and state educational agencies. 

3 ED considers emerging practices to be operational activities or initiatives that contribute to successful outcomes 
or enhance agency performance capabilities. Emerging practices are those that have been successfully 
implemented and demonstrate the potential for replication by other agencies. Emerging practices typically have 
not been rigorously evaluated, but still offer ideas that work in specific situations. 


i 


Each person is unique, so the needs of individual transgender students vary. But a school policy 
setting forth general principles for supporting transgender students can help set clear 
expectations for students and staff and avoid unnecessary confusion, invasions of privacy, and 
other harms. The education community continues to develop and revise policies and practices 
to address the rights of transgender students and reflect our evolving understanding and the 
individualized nature of transgender students' needs. 

This document contains information from some schools, school districts, and state and federal 
agencies. Inclusion of this information does not constitute an endorsement by ED of any policy 
or practice, educational product, service, curriculum or pedagogy. In addition, this document 
references websites that provide information created and maintained by other entities. These 
references are for the reader's convenience. ED does not control or guarantee the accuracy, 
relevance, timeliness, or completeness of this outside information. This document does not 
constitute legal advice, create legal obligations, or impose new requirements. 



Table of Contents 


Student Transitions 1 

1. How do schools find out that a student will transition? 1 

2. How do schools confirm a student's gender identity? 1 

3. How do schools communicate with the parents of younger students compared to 

older transgender students? 2 

Privacy, Confidentiality, and Student Records 4 

4. How do schools protect a transgender student's privacy regarding the student's 

transgender status? 4 

5. How do schools ensure that a transgender student is called by the appropriate name 

and pronouns? 5 

6. How do schools handle requests to change the name or sex designation on a student's 

records? 6 

Sex-Segregated Activities and Facilities 7 

7. How do schools ensure transgender students have access to facilities consistent with 

their gender identity? 7 

8. How do schools protect the privacy rights of all students in restrooms or locker 

rooms? 7 

9. How do schools ensure transgender students have the opportunity to participate in 

physical education and athletics consistent with their gender identity? 8 

10. How do schools treat transgender students when they participate in field trips and 

athletic trips that require overnight accommodations? 9 

Additional Practices to Support Transgender Students 10 

11. What can schools do to make transgender students comfortable in the classroom?.. 10 

12. How do school dress codes apply to transgender students? 10 

13. How do schools address bullying and harassment of transgender students? 11 

14. How do school psychologists, school counselors, school nurses, and school social 

workers support transgender students? 11 

15. How do schools foster respect for transgender students among members of the 

broader school community? 12 

16. What topics do schools address when training staff on issues related to transgender 

students? 12 

17. How do schools respond to complaints about the way transgender students are 

treated? 13 



Terminology 14 

18. What terms are defined in current school policies on transgender students? 14 

19. How do schools account for individual preferences and the diverse ways that students 

describe and express their gender? 15 

Cited Policies on Transgender Students 16 

Select Federal Resources on Transgender Students 18 



Student Transitions 


1. How do schools find out that a student will transition? 

Typically, the student or the student's parent or guardian will tell the school and ask that the 
school start treating the student in a manner consistent with the student's gender identity. 
Some students transition over a school break, such as summer break. Other students may 
undergo a gender transition during the school year, and may ask (or their parents may ask on 
their behalf) teachers and other school employees to respect their identity as they begin 
expressing their gender identity, which may include changes to their dress and appearance. 
Some school district or state policies address how a student or parent might provide the 
relevant notice to the school. 

• Alaska's Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District issued guidelines ("Mat-Su 
Borough Guidelines") advising that transgender students or their parents or 
guardians should contact the building administrator or the student's guidance 
counselor to schedule a meeting to develop a plan to address the student's 
particular circumstances and needs. 

• The guidelines issued by Washington's Superintendent of Public Instruction 
("Washington State Guidelines") offer an example of a student who first attended 
school as a boy and, about midway through a school year, she and her family 
decided that she would transition and begin presenting as a girl. She prefers to 
dress in stereotypically feminine attire such as dresses and skirts. Although she is 
growing her hair out and consistently presents as female at school, her hair is still 
a rather short, typically boyish haircut. The student, her parents, and school 
administrators asked her friends and teachers to use female pronouns to address 
her. 


2. How do schools confirm a student's gender identity? 

Schools generally rely on students' (or in the case of younger students, their parents' or 
guardians') expression of their gender identity. Although schools sometimes request some 
form of confirmation, they generally accept the student's asserted gender identity. Some 
schools offer additional guidance on this issue. 

• Los Angeles Unified School District issued a policy ("LAUSD Policy") noting that 
"[t]here is no medical or mental health diagnosis or treatment threshold that 



students must meet in order to have their gender identity recognized and 
respected" and that evidence may include an expressed desire to be consistently 
recognized by their gender identity. 

• The New York State Education Department issued guidance ("NYSED Guidance") 
recommending that "schools accept a student's assertion of his/her/their own 
gender identity" and provides examples of ways to confirm the assertion, such as a 
statement from the student or a letter from an adult familiar with the student's 
situation. The same guidance also offers the following example: "In one middle 
school, a student explained to her guidance counselor that she was a transgender 
girl who had heretofore only been able to express her female gender identity while 
at home. The stress associated with having to hide her female gender identity by 
presenting as male at school was having a negative impact on her mental health, as 
well as on her academic performance. The student and her parents asked if it would 
be okay if she expressed her female gender identity at school. The guidance 
counselor responded favorably to the request. The fact that the student presented 
no documentation to support her gender identity was not a concern since the school 
had no reason to believe the request was based on anything other than a sincerely 
held belief that she had a female gender identity." 

• Alaska's Anchorage School District developed administrative guidelines ("Anchorage 
Administrative Guidelines") noting that being transgender "involves more than a 
casual declaration of gender identity or expression but does not require proof of a 
formal evaluation and diagnosis. Since individual circumstances, needs, programs, 
facilities and resources may differ; administrators and school staff are expected to 
consider the needs of the individual on a case-by-case basis." 

3. How do schools communicate with the parents of younger students compared to 

older transgender students? 

Parents are often the first to initiate a conversation with the school when their child is 
transgender, particularly when younger children are involved. Parents may play less of a role in 
an older student's transition. Some school policies recommend, with regard to an older 
student, that school staff consult with the student before reaching out to the student's parents. 

• The District of Columbia Public Schools issued guidance ("DCPS Guidance") noting 
that "students may choose to have their parents participate in the transition 
process, but parental participation is not required." The guidance further 

2 



recommends different developmental^ appropriate protocols depending on grade 
level. The DCPS Guidance suggests that the school work with a young student's 
family to identify appropriate steps to support the student, but recommends 
working closely with older students prior to notification of family. The guidance also 
provides a model planning document with key issues to discuss with the student or 
the student's family. 

• Similarly, the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education 
issued guidance ("Massachusetts Guidance") that notes: "Some transgender and 
gender nonconforming students are not openly so at home for reasons such as 
safety concerns or lack of acceptance. School personnel should speak with the 
student first before discussing a student's gender nonconformity or transgender 
status with the student's parent or guardian. For the same reasons, school 
personnel should discuss with the student how the school should refer to the 
student, e.g., appropriate pronoun use, in written communication to the student's 
parent or guardian." 

• Chicago Public Schools' guidelines ("Chicago Guidelines") provide: "When speaking 
with other staff members, parents, guardians, or third parties, school staff should 
not disclose a student's preferred name, pronoun, or other confidential information 
pertaining to the student's transgender or gender nonconforming status without the 
student's permission, unless authorized to do so by the Law Department." 

• Oregon's Department of Education issued guidance stating, "In a case where a 
student is not yet able to self-advocate, the request to respect and affirm a student's 
identity will likely come from the student's parent. However, in other cases, 
transgender students may not want their parents to know about their transgender 
identity. These situations should be addressed on a case-by-case basis and school 
districts should balance the goal of supporting the student with the requirement 
that parents be kept informed about their children. The paramount consideration in 
such situations should be the health and safety of the student, while also making 
sure that the student's gender identity is affirmed in a manner that maintains 
privacy and confidentiality." 


3 



Privacy, Confidentiality, and Student Records 

4. How do schools protect a transgender student's privacy regarding the student's 

transgender status? 

There are a number of ways schools protect transgender students' interests in keeping their 
transgender status private, including taking steps to prepare staff to consistently use the 
appropriate name and pronouns. Using transgender students' birth names or pronouns that do 
not match their gender identity risks disclosing a student's transgender status. Some state and 
school district policies also address how federal and state privacy laws apply to transgender 
students and how to keep information about a student's transgender status confidential. 

• California's El Rancho Unified School District issued a regulation ("El Rancho 
Regulation") that provides that students have the right to openly discuss and express 
their gender identity, but also reminds school personnel to be "mindful of the 
confidentiality and privacy rights of [transgender] students when contacting 
parents/legal guardians so as not to reveal, imply, or refer to a student's actual or 
perceived sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression." 

• The Chicago Guidelines provide that the school should convene an administrative 
support team to work with transgender students and/or their parents or guardians 
to address each student's individual needs and supports. To protect the student's 
privacy, this team is limited to "the school principal, the student, individuals the 
student identifies as trusted adults, and individuals the principal determines may 
have a legitimate interest in the safety and healthy development of the student." 

• The Mat-Su Borough Guidelines state: "In some cases, a student may want school 
staff and students to know, and in other cases the student may not want this 
information to be widely known. School staff should take care to follow the 
student's plan and not to inadvertently disclose information that is intended to be 
kept private or that is protected from disclosure (such as confidential medical 
information)." 

• The Massachusetts Guidance advises schools "to collect or maintain information 
about students' gender only when necessary" and offers an example: "One school 
reviewed the documentation requests it sent out to families and noticed that field 
trip permission forms included a line to fill in indicating the student's gender. Upon 
consideration, the school determined that the requested information was irrelevant 
to the field trip activities and deleted the line with the gender marker request." 


4 




5. How do schools ensure that a transgender student is called by the appropriate name 

and pronouns? 

One of the first issues that school officials may address when a student notifies them of a 
gender transition is determining which name and pronouns the student prefers. Some schools 
have adopted policies to prepare all school staff and students to use a student's newly adopted 
name, if any, and pronouns that are consistent with a student's gender identity. 

• A regulation issued by Nevada's Washoe County School District ("Washoe County 
Regulation") provides that: "Students have the right to be addressed by the names 
and pronouns that correspond to their gender identity. Using the student's 
preferred name and pronoun promotes the safety and wellbeing of the student. 
When possible, the requested name shall be included in the District's electronic 
database in addition to the student's legal name, in order to inform faculty and staff 
of the name and pronoun to use when addressing the student." 

• A procedure issued by Kansas City Public Schools in Missouri ("Kansas City 
Procedure") notes that: "The intentional or persistent refusal to respect the gender 
identity of an employee or student after notification of the preferred pronoun/name 
used by the employee or student is a violation of this procedure." 

• The NYSED Guidance provides: "As with most other issues involved with creating a 
safe and supportive environment for transgender students, the best course is to 
engage the student, and possibly the parent, with respect to name and pronoun use, 
and agree on a plan to reflect the individual needs of each student to initiate that 
name and pronoun use within the school. The plan also could include when and 
how this is communicated to students and their parents." 

• The DCPS Guidance includes a school planning guide for principals to review with 
transgender students as they plan how to ensure the school environment is safe and 
supportive. The school planning guide allows the student to identify the student's 
gender identity and preferred name, key contacts at home and at school, as well as 
develop plans for access to restrooms, locker rooms, and other school activities. 


5 



6. How do schools handle requests to change the name or sex designation on a student's 

records? 

Some transgender students may legally change their names. However, transgender students 
often are unable to obtain identification documents that reflect their gender identity (e.g., due 
to financial limitations or legal restrictions imposed by state or local law). Some school district 
policies specify that they will use the name a student identifies as consistent with the student's 
gender identity regardless of whether the student has completed a legal name change. 

• The NYSED Guidance provides that school records, including attendance records, 
transcripts, and Individualized Education Programs, be updated with the student's 
chosen name and offers an example: "One school administrator dealt with 
information in the student's file by starting a new file with the student's chosen 
name, entered previous academic records under the student's chosen name, and 
created a separate, confidential folder that contained the student's past information 
and birth name." 

• The DCPS Guidance notes: "A court-ordered name or gender change is not required, 
and the student does not need to change their official records. If a student wishes 
to go by another name, the school's registrar can enter that name into the 
'Preferred First' name field of [the school's] database." 

• The Kansas City Procedure recognizes that there are certain situations where school 
staff or administrators may need to report a transgender student's legal name or 
gender. The procedure notes that in these situations, "school staff and 
administrators shall adopt practices to avoid the inadvertent disclosure of such 
confidential information." 

• The Chicago Guidelines state: "Students are not required to obtain a court order 
and/or gender change or to change their official records as a prerequisite to being 
addressed by the name and pronoun that corresponds to their gender identity." 

• The Massachusetts Guidance also addresses requests to amend records after 
graduation: "Transgender students who transition after having completed high 
school may ask their previous schools to amend school records or a diploma or 
transcript that include the student's birth name and gender. When requested, and 
when satisfied with the gender identity information provided, schools should amend 
the student's record." 


6 



Sex-Segregated Activities and Facilities 


7. How do schools ensure transgender students have access to facilities consistent with 

their gender identity? 

Schools often segregate restrooms and locker rooms by sex, but some schools have policies 
that students must be permitted to access facilities consistent with their gender identity and 
not be required to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity or alternative facilities. 

• The Washington State Guidelines provide: "School districts should allow students to 
use the restroom that is consistent with their gender identity consistently asserted 
at school." In addition, no student "should be required to use an alternative 
restroom because they are transgender or gender nonconforming." 

• The Washoe County Regulation provides: "Students shall have access to use 
facilities that correspond to their gender identity as expressed by the student and 
asserted at school, irrespective of the gender listed on the student's records, 
including but not limited to locker rooms." 

• The Anchorage Administrative Guidelines emphasize the following provision: 
"However, staff should not require a transgender or gender nonconforming 
student/employee to use a separate, nonintegrated space unless requested by the 
individual student/employee." 


8. How do schools protect the privacy rights of all students in restrooms or locker 
rooms? 

Many students seek additional privacy in school restrooms and locker rooms. Some schools 
have provided students increased privacy by making adjustments to sex-segregated facilities or 
providing all students with access to alternative facilities. 

• The Washington State Guidelines provide that any student who wants increased 
privacy should be provided access to an alternative restroom or changing area. The 
guidelines explain: "This allows students who may feel uncomfortable sharing the 
facility with the transgender student(s) the option to make use of a separate 
restroom and have their concerns addressed without stigmatizing any individual 
student." 


7 




• The NYSED Guidance gives an example of accommodating all students' interest in 
privacy: "In one high school, a transgender female student was given access to the 
female changing facility, but the student was uncomfortable using the female 
changing facility with other female students because there were no private changing 
areas within the facility. The principal examined the changing facility and 
determined that curtains could easily be put up along one side of a row of benches 
near the group lockers, providing private changing areas for any students who 
wished to use them. After the school put up the curtains, the student was 
comfortable using the changing facility." 

• Atherton High School, in Jefferson County, Kentucky, issued a policy that offers 
examples of accommodations to address any student's request for increased 
privacy: "use of a private area within the public area of the locker room facility (e.g. 
nearby restroom stall with a door or an area separated by a curtain); use of a nearby 
private area (e.g. nearby restroom); or a separate changing schedule." 

• The DCPS Guidance recommends talking to students to come up with an acceptable 
solution: "Ultimately, if a student expresses discomfort to any member of the 
school staff, that staff member should review these options with the student and 
ask the student permission to engage the school LGBTQ. liaison or another 
designated ally in the building." 


9. How do schools ensure transgender students have the opportunity to participate in 
physical education and athletics consistent with their gender identity? 

Some school policies explain the procedures for establishing transgender students' eligibility to 
participate in athletics consistent with their gender identity. Many of those policies refer to 
procedures established by state athletics leagues or associations. 

• The NYSED Guidance explains that "physical education is a required part of the 
curriculum and an important part of many students' lives. Most physical education 
classes in New York's schools are coed, so the gender identity of students should not 
be an issue with respect to these classes. Where there are sex-segregated classes, 
students should be allowed to participate in a manner consistent with their gender 
identity." 

• The LAUSD Policy provides that "participation in competitive athletics, intramural 
sports, athletic teams, competitions, and contact sports shall be facilitated in a 


8 



manner consistent with the student's gender identity asserted at school and in 
accordance with the California Interscholastic Federation bylaws." The California 
Interscholastic Federation establishes a panel of professionals, including at least one 
person with training or expertise in gender identity health care or advocacy, to make 
eligibility decisions. 

• The Rhode Island Interscholastic League's policy states that all students should have 
the opportunity to participate in athletics consistent with their gender identity, 
regardless of the gender listed on school records. The policy provides that the 
league will base its eligibility determination on the student's current transcript and 
school registration information, documentation of the student's consistent gender 
identification (e.g., affirmed written statements from student, parent/guardian, or 
health care provider), and any other pertinent information. 


10. How do schools treat transgender students when they participate in field trips and 
athletic trips that require overnight accommodations? 

Schools often separate students by sex when providing overnight accommodations. Some 
school policies provide that students must be treated consistent with their gender identity in 
making such assignments. 

• Colorado's Boulder Valley School District issued guidelines ("Boulder Valley 
Guidelines") providing that when a school plans overnight accommodations for a 
transgender student, it should consider "the goals of maximizing the student's 
social integration and equal opportunity to participate in overnight activity and 
athletic trips, ensuring the [transgender] student's safety and comfort, and 
minimizing stigmatization of the student." 

• The Chicago Guidelines remind school staff: "In no case should a transgender 
student be denied the right to participate in an overnight field trip because of 
the student's transgender status." 


9 



Additional Practices to Support Transgender Students 

11. What can schools do to make transgender students comfortable in the classroom? 

Classroom practices that do not distinguish or differentiate students based on their gender are 
the most inclusive for all students, including transgender students. 

• The DCPS Guidance suggests that "[wjherever arbitrary gender dividers can be 
avoided, they should be eliminated." 

• The Massachusetts Guidance states that "[a]s a general matter, schools should 
evaluate all gender-based policies, rules, and practices and maintain only those that 
have a clear and sound pedagogical purpose." 

• Minneapolis Public Schools issued a policy providing that students generally should 
not be grouped on the basis of sex for the purpose of instruction or study, but rather 
on bases such as student proficiency in the area of study, student interests, or 
educational needs for acceleration or enrichment. 

• The Maryland State Department of Education issued guidelines that include an 
example of eliminating gender-based sorting of students: "Old Practice: boys line up 
over here." New Practice: birthdays between January and June; everybody who is 
wearing something green, etc." 


12. How do school dress codes apply to transgender students? 

Dress codes that apply the same requirements regardless of gender are the most inclusive for 
all students and avoid unnecessarily reinforcing sex stereotypes. To the extent a school has a 
dress code that applies different standards to male and female students, some schools have 
policies that allow transgender students to dress consistent with their gender identity. 

• Wisconsin's Shorewood School District issued guidelines ("Shorewood Guidelines") 
that allow students to dress in accordance with their gender identity and remind 
school personnel that they must not enforce a dress code more strictly against 
transgender and gender nonconforming students than other students. 

• The Washington State Guidelines encourage school districts to adopt gender-neutral 
dress codes that do not restrict a student's clothing choices on the basis of gender: 
"Dress codes should be based on educationally relevant considerations, apply 


10 




consistently to all students, include consistent discipline for violations, and make 
reasonable accommodations when the situation requires an exception." 


13. How do schools address bullying and harassment of transgender students? 

Unfortunately, bullying and harassment continue to be a problem facing many students, and 
transgender students are no exception. Some schools make clear in their nondiscrimination 
statements that prohibited sex discrimination includes discrimination based on gender identity 
and expression. Their policies also address this issue. 

• The NYSED Guidance stresses the importance of protecting students from bullying 
and harassment because "[the] high rates experienced by transgender students 
correspond to adverse health and educational consequences," including higher rates 
of absenteeism, lower academic achievement, and stunted educational aspirations. 

• The Shorewood Guidelines specify that harassment based on a student's actual or 
perceived transgender status or gender nonconformity is prohibited and notes that 
these complaints are to be handled in the same manner as other discrimination, 
harassment, and bullying complaints. 

• The DCPS Guidance provides examples of prohibited harassment that transgender 
students sometimes experience, including misusing an individual's preferred name 
or pronouns on purpose, asking personal questions about a person's body or gender 
transition, and disclosing private information. 


14. How do school psychologists, school counselors, school nurses, and school social 
workers support transgender students? 

School counselors can help transgender students who may experience mental health disorders 
such as depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress. Mental health staff may also consult 
with school administrators to create inclusive policies, programs, and practices that prevent 
bullying and harassment and ensure classrooms and schools are safe, healthy, and supportive 
places where all students, including transgender students, are respected and can express 
themselves. Schools will be in a better position to support transgender students if they 
communicate to all students that resources are available, and that they are competent to 
provide support and services to any student who has questions related to gender identity. 


11 



• The NYSED Guidance suggests that counselors can serve as a point of contact for 
transgender students who seek to take initial steps to assert their gender identity in 
school. 

• The Chicago Guidelines convene a student administrative support team to 
determine the appropriate supports for transgender students. The team consists of 
the school principal, the student, adults that the student trusts, and individuals the 
principal determines may have a legitimate interest in the safety and healthy 
development of the student. 


15. How do schools foster respect for transgender students among members of the 
broader school community? 

Developing a clear policy explaining how to support transgender students can help 
communicate the importance the school places on creating a safe, healthy, and 
nondiscriminatory school climate for all students. Schools can do this by providing educational 
programs aimed at staff, students, families, and other community members. 

• The Massachusetts Guidance informs superintendents and principals that they 
"need to review existing policies, handbooks, and other written materials to ensure 
they are updated to reflect the inclusion of gender identity in the student 
antidiscrimination law, and may wish to inform all members of the school 
community, including school personnel, students, and families of the recent change 
to state law and its implications for school policy and practice. This could take the 
form of a letter that states the school's commitment to being a supportive, inclusive 
environment for all students." 

• The NYSED Guidance states that "school districts are encouraged to provide this 
guidance document and other resources, such as trainings and information sessions, 
to the school community including, but not limited to, parents, students, staff and 
residents." 


16. What topics do schools address when training staff on issues related to transgender 
students? 

Schools can reinforce commitments to providing safe, healthy, and nondiscriminatory school 
climates by training all school personnel about appropriate and respectful treatment of all 
students, including transgender students. 


12 



• The Massachusetts Guidance suggests including the following topics in faculty and 
staff training "key terms related to gender identity and expression; the development 
of gender identity; the experiences of transgender and other gender nonconforming 
students; risks and resilience data regarding transgender and gender nonconforming 
students; ways to support transgender students and to improve school climate for 
gender nonconforming students; [and] gender-neutral language and practices." 

• The El Rancho Regulation states that the superintendent or designee "shall provide 
to employees, volunteers, and parents/guardians training and information regarding 
the district's nondiscrimination policy; what constitutes prohibited discrimination, 
harassment, intimidation, or bullying; how and to whom a report of an incident 
should be made; and how to guard against segregating or stereotyping students 
when providing instruction, guidance, supervision, or other services to them. Such 
training and information shall include guidelines for addressing issues related to 
transgender and gender-nonconforming students." 


17. How do schools respond to complaints about the way transgender students are 
treated? 

School policies often provide that complaints from transgender students be handled under the 
same policy used to resolve other complaints of discrimination or harassment. 

• The Boulder Valley Guidelines provide that "complaints alleging discrimination or 
harassment based on a person's actual or perceived transgender status or gender 
nonconformity are to be handled in the same manner as other discrimination or 
harassment complaints." 

• The Anchorage Administrative Guidelines provide that "students may also use the 
Student Grievance Process to address any civil rights issue, including transgender 
issues at school." 


13 



Terminology 


18. What terms are defined in current school policies on transgender students? 

Understanding the needs of transgender students includes understanding relevant terminology. 
Most school policies define commonly used terms to assist schools in understanding key 
concepts relevant to transgender students. The list below is not exhaustive, and only includes 
examples of some of the most common terms that school policies define. 

• Gender identity refers to a person's deeply felt internal sense of being male or 
female, regardless of their sex assigned at birth. (Washington State Guidelines) 

• Sex assigned at birth refers to the sex designation, usually "male" or "female," 
assigned to a person when they are born. (NYSED Guidance) 

• Gender expression refers to the manner in which a person represents or expresses 
gender to others, often through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, activities, voice or 
mannerisms. (Washoe County Regulation) 

• Transgender or trans describes a person whose gender identity does not correspond 
to their assigned sex at birth. (Massachusetts Guidance) 

• Gender transition refers to the process in which a person goes from living and 
identifying as one gender to living and identifying as another. (Washoe County 
Regulation) 

• Cisgender describes a person whose gender identity corresponds to their assigned 
sex at birth. (NYSED Guidance) 

• Gender nonconforming describes people whose gender expression differs from 
stereotypic expectations. The terms gender variant or gender atypical are also used. 
Gender nonconforming individuals may identify as male, female, some combination 
of both, or neither. (NYSED Guidance) 

• Intersex describes individuals born with chromosomes, hormones, genitalia and/or 
other sex characteristics that are not exclusively male or female as defined by the 
medical establishment in our society. (DCPS Guidance) 

• LGBTQ is an acronym that stands for "lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and 
queer/questioning." (LAUSD Policy) 


14 



• Sexual orientation refers to a person's emotional and sexual attraction to another 
person based on the gender of the other person. Common terms used to describe 
sexual orientation include, but are not limited to, heterosexual, lesbian, gay, and 
bisexual. Sexual orientation and gender identity are different. (LAUSD Policy) 


19. How do schools account for individual preferences and the diverse ways that students 

describe and express their gender? 

Some students may use different terms to identify themselves or describe their situations. For 
example, a transgender male student may identify simply as male, consistent with his gender 
identity. The same principles apply even if students use different terms. Some school policies 
directly address this question and provide additional guidance. 

• The Washington State Guidelines recognize how "terminology can differ based on 
religion, language, race, ethnicity, age, culture and many other factors." 

• Washington's Federal Way School District issued a resource guide that states: "Keep 
in mind that the meaning of gender conformity can vary from culture to culture, so 
these may not translate exactly to Western ideas of what it means to be 
transgender. Some of these identities include Hijra (South Asia), Fa'afafine (Samoa), 
Kathoey (Thailand), Travesti (South America), and Two-Spirit (Native American/First 
Nations)." 

• The Washoe County Regulation, responding to cultural diversity within the state, 
offers examples of "ways in which transgender and gender nonconforming youth 
describe their lives and gendered experiences: trans, transsexual, transgender, 
male-to-female (MTF), female-to-male (FTM), bi-gender, two-spirit, trans man, and 
trans woman." 

• The DCPS Guidance provides this advice to staff: "If you are unsure about a 
student's preferred name or pronouns, it is appropriate to privately and tactfully ask 
the student what they prefer to be called. Additionally, when speaking about a 
student it is rarely necessary to label them as being transgender, as they should be 
treated the same as the rest of their peers." 


15 



Cited Policies on Transgender Students 


• Anchorage School District (AK): Administrative Guidelines: Working with Transgender and 
Gender Nonconforming Students and Employees (2015) (on file with ED) 

• Atherton High School, Jefferson County School District (KY), Policy on School Space (2014), 
www.iefferson.kl2.kv.us/schools/high/atherton/SBDMDocuments/Policy%20500%20Draft 

-%20Los%20Angeles%20Unified%20School%20District%20Revised%20Model.pdf 

• Boulder Valley School District (CO), Guidelines Regarding the Support of Students and Staff 
Who Are Transgender and/or Gender Nonconforming (2016), 
http://www.bvsd.org/policies/Policies/AC-E3.pdf 

• California Interscholastic Federation, Guidelines for Gender Identity Participation (2015), 
http://static.psbin.eom/m/5/0ndq7wwfgh2em9/Guidelines for Gender Identity Participa 

tion.pdf 

• Chicago Public Schools (IL), Guidelines Regarding the Support of Transgender and Gender 
Nonconforming Students (2016), 

cps.edu/SiteCollectionDocuments/TL TransGenderNonconformingStudents Guidelines.pd 

f 

• District of Columbia Public Schools, Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Policy 
Guidance (2015), dcps.dc.gov/publication/dcps-transgender-and-gender-non-conforming- 
policy-guidance 

• El Rancho Unified School District, Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Students (AR 
5145.3) (2014), www.erusd.org/pdf/board policies/5145 3.pdf 

• Federal Way Public Schools (WA), Working with Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming 
Students and Staff (2014-2015), www.fwps.net/districtresources/wp- 
content/uploads/sites/32/2013/12/FWPS Transgender3.pdf?7a385a 

• Kansas City 33 School District (MO), Prohibition Against Discrimination, Harassment and 
Retaliation (Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Employee and Students) (2013), 
eboard.eboardsolutions.com/ePolicy/policv.aspx?PC=AC- 

AP(l)&Sch=228&S=228&RevNo=1.01&C=A&Z=R 

• Los Angeles Unified School District (CA), Transgender Students - Ensuring Equity and 
Nondiscrimination (2014), 

notebook.lausd.net/pls/ptl/docs/PAGE/CA LAUSD/FLDR ORGAN IZATIONS/FLDR GENERAL 

COUNSEL/BUL-6224.1%20TRANSGENDER%20PQLICY.%2008-15-14%20- 

%20ADDED%20ED%20CQDE%20221%205.PDF 


16 


• Maryland State Department of Education, Providing Safe Spaces for Transgender and 
Gender Non-Conforming Youth: Guidelines for Gender Identity Non-Discrimination (2015), 
marylandpublicschools.org/MSDE/divisions/studentschoolsvcs/student services alt/docs/ 

ProvidingSafeSpacesTransgendergenderNonConformingYouth012016.pdf 

• Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, Guidance for 
Massachusetts Public Schools Creating a Safe and Supportive School Environment 
Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity (2014), 
www.doe.mass.edu/ssce/Genderldentity.pdf 

• Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District (AK), Transgender Student Guidelines (2015), 
www.matsukl2.us/site/handlers/filedownload.ashx?moduleinstanceid=10846&dataid=41 

646&FileName=Title IX-Transgender Students Guidelines.pdf 

• Minneapolis Public Schools (MN), Permissible Grouping Principles (2014), 
policy. mpls.kl2.mn.us/uploads/regulation_6135_a. pdf 

• New York State Education Department, Guidance to School Districts for Creating a Safe and 
Supportive School Environment for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students 
(2015), www.pl2.nysed.gov/dignityact/documents/Transg GNCGuidanceFINAI_.pdf 

• Oregon Department of Education, Guidance to School Districts: Creating a Safe and 
Supportive School Environment for Transgender Students (2016), 

www.ode.state.or.us/groups/supportstaff/hklb/schoolnurses/transgenderstudentguidance 

.pdf . 

• Rhode Island Interscholastic League, Rules & Regulations (Article I, Section 22 - Gender 
Identity), www.riil.org/files/8214/3861/6354/ARTICLE 1 ORGANIZATION 2015.pdf 

• Shorewood School District (Wl), Nondiscrimination Guidelines Related to Students Who Are 
Transgender and Students Nonconforming to Gender Role Stereotypes (2014), 
www.shorewood.kl2.wi.us/uploaded/Board Documents/Policies/411 Guidelines and Ex 

hibit.pdf?1393865642372 

• Washington Office of State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Prohibiting Discrimination 
in Washington Public Schools (2012), 

www.kl2.wa.us/Equity/pubdocs/ProhibitingDiscriminationlnPublicSchools.pdf 

• Washoe County School District (NV), Gender Identity and Gender Non-Conformity - 
Students (2015), washoecountyschools.net/csi/pdf files/5161%20Reg%20- 
%20Gender%20ldentity%20vl.pdf 


17 


Select Federal Resources on Transgender Students 


• U.S. Department of Education 

o Office for Civil Rights and U.S. Department of Justice's Civil Rights Division, 
Dear Colleague Letter: Transgender Students (May 13, 2016), 
www.ed.gov/ocr/letters/colleague-201605-title-ix-transgender.pdf 

o Office for Civil Rights, Resources for Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming 
Students, www.ed.gov/ocr/lgbt.html 

o Office for Civil Rights, Publications on Title IX, 

www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/publications.html#TitlelX 

o Office for Civil Rights, How to File a Discrimination Complaint, 
www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/docs/howto.html 

o National Center on Safe Supportive Learning Environments, 
safesupportivelearning.ed.gov 

• U.S. Department of Health and Human Services 

o Administration for Children and Families, Resources for Serving Lesbian , Gay, 
Bisexual and Transgender Youth, http://ncfy.acf.hhs.gov/features/serving- 
lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender-and-questioning-youth-open- 

arms/resources-serving 

o Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, LGBT Youth Resources, 
www.cdc.gov/lgbthealth/youth-resources.htm 

o Homelessness Resource Center, Homeless Populations: LGBTQI2-S Youth, 
http://homeless.samhsa.gov/Channel/LGBTQ-153.aspx 

o Stopbullying.gov, Bullying and LGBT Youth, http://www.stopbullying.gov/at- 
risk/groups/lgbt 

• U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 

o Community-Wide Prevention of LGBTQ Youth Homelessness (June 2015), 
https://www.hudexchange.info/resources/documents/LGBTQ-Youth- 

Homelessness-Prevention-lnitiative-Overview.pdf 


18 


U.S. Department of Labor 




o Office of Job Corps, Directive: Job Corps Program Instruction Notice No. 14-31 
(May 1, 2015), https://supportservices.iobcorps.gov/Program Instruction 
Notices/pi 14 31.pdf 


19