This morning the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education jointly issued a “Dear Colleague” letter to public school districts nationwide spelling out measures schools should take to safeguard the civil rights of students, based on their gender identity.
Both departments interpret that Title IX, which outlaws sex discrimination for any school receiving federal funding, covers gender identity. Because the law prohibits discrimination based on a student’s gender identity, the departments assert, this includes discrimination based on a student’s transgender status.
The “Dear Colleague” letter indicates it does not change any existing laws or add any new requirements to existing law, but provides what it calls “significant guidance” and explains exactly what school policies the Education and Justice Departments consider to be compliant with Title IX.
In addition to the letter, the Education Department issued a separate resource publication giving examples of it describes as “emerging practices” and policies to support transgender students in states around the country.
The WASB will be updating its guidance to school districts in light of the issuance of the letter and resource publication.
Subscribers to the WASB’s Policy Resource Guide (PRG), an online policy development tool, can find related information on this topic under the policy code of 411. The purpose of the PRG is to help school districts develop local policies that meet their own community needs and interests while keeping in mind general legal considerations.
The May issue of WASB’s Policy Perspectives will discuss the newly issued federal guidance on transgender students and its application to local school district policies.