How Schools Around The Country Are Treating Transgender Student Rights

May 15, 2016

By Anya Kamenetz and Gabrielle Emanuel

In addition to the letter today to the nation’s school districts urging them to protect the rights of transgender students, the Education Department provided a long report on states and districts it says are already doing so.

That list includes the nation’s three largest school districts: New York, Los Angeles and Chicago. It also names plenty of smaller places, like Matanuska-Susitna Borough School District in Alaska, and Shorewood School District in Wisconsin. And while inclusion on the list doesn’t mean those states and districts are doing everything the federal government now says they should, it does provide a snapshot of policies the department thinks are worth highlighting:

  • The LA Unified School District’s policy declares that participation in sports “shall be facilitated” in a manner consistent with the student’s gender identity.
  • Chicago says schools should convene an administrative support team to address each transgender student’s individual needs and supports, a team that would include the principal, students and/or their parents or guardians.
  • The Federal Way School District in Washington State reminds school leaders: “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 other places with policies singled out in the report are: California; Colorado’s Boulder Valley; the Washington, D.C.; Atherton High School, in Jefferson County, Ky.; Maryland; Massachusetts; Minneapolis; Kansas City, Mo.; Washoe County School District in Nevada; New York State; Oregon; Rhode Island; Washington State.

The Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN, an advocacy group, also tracks which states have anti-bullying and anti-discrimination laws that specifically protect transgender students.

NPR Ed decided to take a look at the other side of the ledger as well — places that have seen legal challenges over this issue or that may have policies in conflict with the new guidance.

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