Thursday, May 19, 2016

Transgender discrimination advisory issued

On May 13, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) issued a joint Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students reminding schools that Title IX’s prohibition on sex discrimination encompasses discrimination based on a student’s gender identity and transgender status. The Dear Colleague Letter purportedly does not add legal requirements, but informs schools how the DOE and DOJ will evaluate whether they are complying with legal obligations. The DOE and DOJ state that such obligations include:
  • Treating students consistent with their gender identity,
  • Not requiring a medical diagnosis, medical treatment, or official identification documents as a prerequisite for a student to be treated consistent with their gender identity,
  • Allowing transgender students to access sex-segregated activities (e.g., athletics and single-sex classes) consistent with their gender identity,
  • Allowing transgender students to access sex-segregated facilities (including restrooms, locker rooms and housing/overnight accommodations) consistent with their gender identity, and
  • Protecting transgender students’ privacy (for example, by not designating students’ sex as directory information).
The DOE simultaneously released an accompanying document, Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students, to provide schools with information and examples for complying with these legal obligations.

PRESS model policy 7:10-AP, Accommodating Transgender Students or Gender Non-Conforming Students, will be updated to include these documents in its list of References for school district consideration. Schools are reminded to consult with their Board attorney regarding any further updates to their policies and procedures governing transgender students.  For further discussion of transgender student issues, please click here.