Achieving LGBT Equality Through Litigation, Legislation, Policy, and Public Education

Case Summary & History

Federal Legislation & Policy

Case: Student v. Arcadia Unified School District

STATUS: Victory, National

NCLR represents a transgender student who transitioned from female to male a few years ago. After transitioning, the student returned to middle school hopeful that everything would go smoothly. Although he presented as male and had completed a court-ordered name change, the school district still required that he use the nurse’s office for restroom access and to change in and out of his gym clothes. This arrangement caused him to miss a significant amount of class time. Sometimes his peers would tease him for taking so long to travel the long distance to the nurse’s office and back. Eventually, he stopped going to the bathroom at all. Changing for gym was also a source of stress and anxiety because he would have to come up with excuses to explain to his peers why he was changing in the nurse’s office instead of in the locker room like everybody else.

In seventh grade, the student’s class took an overnight field trip. His parents approached the school district far in advance of the trip in hopes of avoiding any problems that might arise. They requested that the student be allowed to room in a cabin with his male friends. The school district refused and instead placed him in a cabin by himself with his father as his chaperone. When his parents told him about the restrictions the school district was placing on his participation in the field trip, the student was extremely upset that the school district was still not treating him as the boy he is. Not wanting to miss out on this important educational opportunity, the student attended the field trip, but could not escape the feeling that the school district placed him under “quarantine” by requiring him to sleep in a separate cabin.

On October 10, 2011, NCLR filed a complaint on the student’s behalf with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division (DOJ). The complaint alleged that the school district’s treatment of the student constituted sex discrimination in violation of Title IX. On July 24, 2013, OCR and DOJ announced a resolution to NCLR’s complaint. The Resolution Agreement requires the school district to treat the student as male for all purposes and to stop singling him out for different treatment than his male peers. Moreover, the district will revise its policies to state that transgender and gender nonconforming students are entitled to equal access to all of the school’s programs, facilities, and activities. The district will conduct district-wide training with personnel and students. Through this agreement, the federal government has taken an important step to protect young people from harassment and discrimination by clarifying that that Title IX requires schools to treat transgender students in accordance with their gender identity.

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