The Massachusetts Department of Education issued new guidance on Friday for how to respect transgender students and ensure their full safe inclusion in schools. The new directives reflect a 2011 law prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity and take a comprehensive look at the experience of trans people in the education system. Here are some of the recommendations:
- Respect students when they determine their own gender identity.
- Use the names and pronouns students have chosen for themselves.
- Protect the confidentiality of students’ identities in their records, making sure only to disclose a student’s identity when it will benefit the student.
- Adjust gender markers on student records to reflect students’ gender identities.
- Ensure students can access the restrooms, locker rooms, and changing facilities that correspond with their gender identity.
- Provide a safe alternative to sex-segregated restrooms, such as a single “unisex” restroom or nurse’s restroom.
- Work with students who feel uncomfortable having a trans student in their restroom or locker room to help foster their understanding of gender identity and a culture of respect and values.
- Allow students to participate in physical education and athletic activities in a manner consistent with their gender identity.
- Adjust dress codes, including for events like prom and graduation, to be gender-neutral.
- Incorporate education and training about trans and gender non-conforming into anti-bullying curriculum, students leadership trainings, and staff professional development.
- Help families and the community understand what it means to have a school with policies that are inclusive of gender identity.
Conservatives are already complaining that bathrooms need to remain segregated by genetic sex, but education department spokesman JC Considine explained that school restrooms are not public accommodations:
CONSIDINE: We’re talking about the use of school facilities by students who have no choice but to be in a school building. Kids have to have restroom access.
Indeed, kids need to have an environment where they can be respected for who they are, and these guidelines provide for just that.