Many area schools already follow decree to accommodate transgender students

‪‪Barack Obama‬, ‪Texas‬, ‪Dan Patrick‬‬

Many area schools already follow decree to accommodate transgender students

wen Laurie Singh's son Alex came out as transgender, the first person he told outside of family was his seventh-grade guidance counselor who, along with other faculty at the Winnetka middle school, supported him and affirmed his gender identity.

Yet Singh said she knows that's not the case for all students across Chicagoland and the nation, so she was grateful for the directive from President Barack Obama’s administration on Friday that schools must accommodate transgender students, including allowing them access to the bathroom or locker room that matches their gender identity.

Officials with the departments of Education and Justice say public schools are obligated to treat transgender students in a manner that's in-line with their gender identity and grant them equal access, even in cases where it makes others uncomfortable. Schools cannot require transgender students to provide a medical diagnosis, undergo any kind of treatment or produce a birth certificate or other identification to be treated according to their gender identity, the directive says.

"It's huge when faculty go out of their way to give a sense of belonging and acceptance for who (students) are," said Singh, whose son is now a freshman at New Trier High School.
The federal guidance comes amid a national furor over policies and laws governing transgender folks' use of public bathrooms, showers and changing rooms. The U.S. Department of Justice and North Carolina recently filed opposing lawsuits over a new state law requiring transgender people to use public facilities that match the sex of their birth. Ted Cruz campaigned for president on the issue, saying it's "common sense" that people should use the bathroom that corresponds to their sex at birth.

Locally, the question has also spurred heated debate in northwest suburban Palatine. In a landmark case, a transgender student at Township High School District 211 filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education, saying the school denied her access to the girls locker room. Federal education officials found the district violated Title IX, and late last year the district made a controversial decision to give her access to the locker room, while also installing privacy walls.

A group of parents and students this month filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education and the school district, arguing the situation created an "intimidating and hostile" environment for students who share the locker room with the transgender student.

Their attorney Jeremy Tedesco, with the religious advocacy group Alliance Defending Freedom, decried the Obama administration's new guidelines in a written statement Friday, saying they "simply reinforce what has been abundantly clear already — that it has a political goal of forcing women to share restrooms and locker rooms with men across the nation and will spread falsehoods about federal law to achieve its aims."

District 211 Superintendent Daniel Cates said in a written statement that the district "affirms and supports the identity of all our students."
While the White House's guidance Friday doesn't impose any new legal requirements, federal officials say it does clarify the government's expectations of school districts that receive federal funding.

"There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement along with the directive, which was sent to school districts.

In Illinois, roughly 80 percent of adults who described themselves as transgender or gender nonconforming say they were harassed and 33 percent said they were physically assaulted in school, according the 2011 National Transgender Discrimination Survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Ten percent of those who responded to the survey said harassment was so bad they dropped out of a K-12 school or higher education.

Jennifer Leininger with the Gender and Sex Development Program at Lurie Children's Hospital called the federal directive "groundbreaking."

"By affirming transgender students and guaranteeing them these rights, we're not denying anyone else's rights," she said. "And sometimes I think that gets missed."

In East Aurora School District 131, school board president Annette Johnson said she expects some blowback over the guidelines.
She was school board president when, more than three years ago, the district passed a policy granting certain rights to transgender students, including use of bathrooms matching gender identity, but then rescinded it days later amid national controversy.

"I think that it's good for it to be addressed more on a national and state level," she said. "So it's not just one person. That it's not just one school district doing it."

Many local educators say they won't have a problem complying with the new federal guidelines, and some say they already do so.

Chicago Public Schools this month updated its guidelines to permit transgender and gender nonconforming students the use of bathrooms and locker rooms that correlate with their gender identity, and also includes the district's first protocol regarding transgender employees and adults who volunteer or visit CPS.

Transgender students at west suburban Oak Park Elementary School District 97 are allowed to use the restroom of the gender they identify with, a practice that's been in place since fall of 2013, said spokesman Chris Jasculca.

Raymond Lechner, superintendent of Wilmette Public Schools District 39, said his district serves more than one transgender student and has worked with others in the past decade.

The school board amended its policies some time ago to include transgender students among those that the district would not discriminate against, Lechner said. Students are also allowed to use the bathroom they feel most comfortable with, he said.

"Sometimes it's the regular bathroom, and sometimes students don't want to use those bathrooms, they want to use the nurse's bathroom," he said.

Kris Frandson, associate principal for administrative services at Glenbrook North High School, said that while the high school complies, its educators view practices as common sense, not policies.

"We didn't feel the need to create a policy for something as simple as where students want to go to the bathroom," she said. "We just needed to create a facility and listen to their needs."

This school year, after three students requested a gender neutral bathroom at Glenbrook North High School, the administration turned a private staff bathroom into a gender-neutral facility for staff and students. Frandson said the administration hasn't heard any concerns.

Students at New Trier Township High School District 203 are allowed to use the bathroom and locker room based on the gender they identify with, spokeswoman Nicole Dizon said in an email. The high school also has several unisex bathrooms for students who prefer facilities that are not gender-specific, and more will be added after a new addition to the school is built, she said.
As for Alex Singh, the 15-year-old who attends New Trier said the strong statement from the federal government will go a long way to help transgender students, even in districts that aren't as supportive.

"Even if some people don't agree, getting it out there will help" by educating people about gender diversity, he said. "Sometimes people fear what they don't understand."

Leventis Lourgos is a Chicago Tribune reporter. Routliffe and Kukulka are Pioneer Press reporters.

Aurora Beacon-News reporter Sarah Freishtat, Pioneer Press reporter Steve Schering and the Associated Press contributed.



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NhutTruong.Com - Chia sẻ kiến thức miễn phí: Many area schools already follow decree to accommodate transgender students
Many area schools already follow decree to accommodate transgender students
‪‪Barack Obama‬, ‪Texas‬, ‪Dan Patrick‬‬
NhutTruong.Com - Chia sẻ kiến thức miễn phí
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