Federal officials have sent a clear signal to school districts: nondiscrimination protections include transgender students. The message came in a settlement case involving a student in a middle school in Arcadia, CA. The student, who is biologically female, identified as a male from an early age. The student and his family began transitioning in fifth grade, with the student adopting a male name and clothing.
Fellow students were generally accepting, but the school barred the student from using the male bathroom or locker room facilities. In addition, on a camping trip the student was segregated from his fellow students, instead of bunking with the other boys.
In the settlement, the Departments of Justice and Education said that Title IX, the federal law that bans sex discrimination, also applies to gender identify and transgender status. “This is a natural extension of the way courts and administrative agencies are interpreting sex-stereotyping,” National Center for Lesbian Rights staff attorney Asaf Orr, who represented the student, told BuzzFeed.
Still, the feds hedged their bets.saying that their decision was “not a formal statement of policy and should not be relied upon, cited, or construed as such.” Nonetheless, the direction is very clear. School districts who ignore it do so at their own peril.