(San Francisco, CA, May 13, 2016) – Today, the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and the United States Department of Justice issued guidance on Title IX and the right of transgender students to attend school free from discrimination based on sex.
The guidance affirms that schools, colleges, and universities must provide transgender students with a safe and supportive environment and must:
- Provide transgender students access to all of the school’s programs, activities, and facilities (i.e. restrooms, locker rooms, housing, and athletics) based on the student’s gender identity;
- Refer to transgender students by their chosen name and pronouns, even if the student has not obtained a court-ordered name or gender marker change;
- Implement safeguards to ensure that a transgender student’s gender identity remain private; and
- Respond appropriately to reports of harassment of transgender students.
“This is the boldest stance the federal government could take to support transgender students,” said National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) Transgender Youth Project Staff Attorney Asaf Orr. “This guidance could not be clearer—schools must treat transgender students with dignity and respect, providing them equal opportunities to succeed and thrive as they would any other student. We applaud this historic step, which sends the strongest possible message to transgender students and their families that they are valuable, equal, and welcome members of our national community. We look forward to working with the federal government and others to ensure this guidance is being implemented in school districts across the United States.”
OCR first addressed the application of Title IX to a transgender student in Student v. Arcadia Unified School District, a complaint filed by the National Center for Lesbian Rights. That complaint alleged that the school district discriminated against a transgender student by denying him access to the boys’ facilities and refusing to allow him to room with his male peers on an overnight field trip. The Department of Education and the United States Department of Justice negotiated an historic resolution agreement requiring the school district to treat the transgender student as male for all purposes. Since that resolution agreement, the Department of Education has reached similar resolutions to protect transgender students in several other cases and has repeatedly affirmed that. Title IX protects transgender students.