Post submitted by Charles Girard, HRC Welcoming Schools Coordinator
Even before the Obama administration’s groundbreaking guidance regarding transgender students, some school districts have been diligently ensuring the dignity and respect of transgender students and identities.
While the Obama administration's guidance lays out specific policies, procedures, and best practices in supporting transgender students, every school district has different needs.
The following three school districts are working to specifically protect transgender and gender-expansive students:
Los Angeles Unified School District
Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) demonstrated its commitment to the safety of LGBTQ students through its unique district-wide program “Project 10.” Project 10 helped schools welcome LGBTQ students by offering technical support, advocating for LGBTQ students and serving as a general hub for LGBTQ needs. LAUSD also created a specific policy in 2014 that outlined the rights of transgender students in regards to points such as access to gendered facilities, privacy and dress codes. LAUSD Board of Education President Steve Zimmer told CBS that he hopes every middle and high school will have at least one gender-neutral bathroom available for student use during the upcoming year. “[Creating gender-neutral bathrooms] is not a huge, overwhelming burden or expense, and any expense that we incur is absolutely worth it for the human rights and dignity of our kids,” Zimmer said.
Boulder Valley School District
Boulder Valley School District first created a policy to “support students and staff who are transgender and/or gender nonconforming” in 2012 and has updated those guidelines twice since then. The district’s comprehensive policy helped the district gain a reputation as a welcoming district, and, according to the Denver Post, several families with transgender children have relocated to Boulder to attend school. Recognizing that the student database only allowed “male” and “female,” the district worked to add “gender non-conforming” as a third option for students who don’t identify as strictly boys or girls. The district’s own Mesa Elementary earned the Welcoming Schools Seal of Excellence for its exemplary implementation of the Welcoming Schools approach to creating LGBTQ-inclusive learning environments.
District of Columbia Public Schools
The District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS) LGBTQ engagement efforts are robust, including anti-bullying policies, an LGBTQ Steering Committee and a Transgender and Gender-Nonconforming Policy Guidance. Beyond those efforts, DCPS also has an active Facebook page with internal and external resources, hosted a conference dedicated to LGBTQ inclusive schools earlier this year and always has a large contingent in the Washington, D.C. Pride Parade. Tina Bradley, an educator in the district, wrote a piece for Vox about trans-inclusive practices. “The bathroom issue isn't really about bathrooms. It's about understanding and accepting our transgender students as valuable members of our community,” she said.
HRC’s Welcoming Schools commends these school districts and others around the country for going above and beyond to ensure that transgender students are protected and included.
To learn how to make your school or district more LGBTQ-inclusive and to find ways to better support the transgender and gender-expansive youth in your community, visit welcomingschools.org.
HRC Welcoming Schools is the nation's premier program dedicated to creating respectful and supportive elementary schools that celebrate family diversity and LGBTQ-inclusion, prevent biased-based bullying and gender stereotyping, and embrace all students. We envision a day when all schools will truly be Welcoming Schools.