How Will School Districts Apply New Transgender Policies?

May 16, 2016

The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education wrote a letter to schools across the country last week regarding the rights of transgender students. The list includes best practices to ensure the safety and comfort of students who identify as a different gender from their sex assigned at birth. It advises school officials on matters like using preferred gender pronouns of those students. WNIJ contacted a number of area school districts about the policy: only two replied, including LaSalle-Peru Township High School.

Credit adapted from Flickr user Dannielle Blumenthal / cc x 2.0

Superintendent Steven Wrobleski says there isn’t a lot of hostility targeted at transgender students within his district, and teachers have been understanding about the students’ needs. He says, “Our staff has been very, very accommodating to make sure that they call the student by the name that they prefer and those sorts of things.”

Wrobleski says the students in the small district are welcome to use whatever bathroom fits closer to their gender identity or makes them feel most comfortable. He adds there isn’t an immediate need to add more unisex bathrooms or individual stalls to the school’s current restrooms or locker rooms. Wrobleski says a few students identify as transgender within his district, but the number is so small that releasing it would violate the students’ privacy.

Rockford Public Schools spokesman Earl Dotson, Jr. stated in an email the district will determine the impact when it finishes reviewing the Justice Department document.

The federal document says if a school wants to receive federal funds, it will comply with Title Nine and won’t exclude, separate or deny benefits to someone based not only on sex, but gender identity.