Friday, September 01, 2017

News Flash! CT Department of Education.

The Connecticut Department of Education has just released guidelines for trans students in response to the U.S. Department of Education removing their guidelines for trans students.

When I was at a symposium at the Connecticut State Capitol late last month that was given by the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities (CHRO) on trans students’ rights, it was hinted that the guidelines were going to be released shortly.

In February Governor Malloy issued the following statement that reads in part,
To: Superintendents of Schools
From: Governor Dannel P. Malloy and Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell
Date: February 23, 2017

Subject: State Guidance for Districts Regarding Transgender Students

The State of Connecticut is committed to ensuring that every student has access to highquality education in a safe, supportive and welcoming school environment. The state also has a long history of supporting the civil rights of all people. Our resolve to continuing both of these traditions remains unwavering.

In particular, the state has been at the forefront of supporting equality and protections for members of our lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender (LGBT) community, including our transgender youth. In 2011, Connecticut passed legislation (Public Act 11-55) that codified gender identity and expression as a protected class under the state's antidiscrimination statutes.

For these reasons, we are dismayed and deeply disappointed that the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice decided to rescind nationwide guidance on protecting the civil rights of our transgender youth. While this action may have left the federal executive branch interpretation unclear, it does not change the law or eliminate the obligation to follow Title IX and other federal anti-discrimination law.
[…]
In light of the decision by President Trump and his administration to roll back federal guidance regarding the application of Title IX protections to transgender students, we will soon be issuing more formal guidance pertaining to protections afforded to students and staff members under Title IX and Connecticut law. Pending issuance of further guidance, please refer to the May 2016 federal guidance, which is attached.
It was this letter that was the force that lead to the guidelines from the CT Department of Education.

In the document they have sections on;
Establishing Gender Identity,
Names, Pronouns and Gender Marker,
Issues Concerning Student Records,
Restrooms, Locker Rooms and Physical Education,
Dress Code.
They also have a section on Relevant Statutory Language Protecting Transgender Students

But that is not all; they also released a FAQ for the guidelines and in it they cover such topics as,
5. What if the family of another student raises religious freedom as an objection to school policies to protect transgender students?In the public school setting, all students are entitled to equal treatment. Protecting one student’s civil right to equal treatment does not violate the religious freedoms of other students. In explaining this to families who raise objections, school officials may find it helpful to note that all students will be afforded privacy.

6. Do transgender students need to provide documentation of their gender identity?No. Students are not required to produce documents that reflect their gender identity in order to have the right to be treated consistent with their gender identity. Under the relevant laws, schools are expected to treat students consistent with the student’s stated gender identity even if the education records or identification documents indicate a different sex. Similarly, the school’s obligation to treat a student consistent with the student’s gender identity or expression does not require notice from the parent or guardian.

If a school determines that it is necessary to confirm a student’s stated gender identity, it should do so in accordance with the law. Governing law provides that transgender students have a variety of different ways of establishing their gender identity, including, but not limited to: (1) medical history, (2) care or treatment of the gender-related identity, (3) consistent and uniform assertion of such an identity, or (4) any other evidence that the identity is sincerely held, part of the student’s core identity, or that the student is not asserting such an identity for an improper purpose. This is not an exhaustive list and schools should consult district officials and counsel for further guidance.
In the next section they cover,
Single-Sex Facilities and Activities

1. What restrooms should students use?Most schools divide restrooms by sex. Under federal and state laws, CSDE policies and procedures, and Executive Order No. 56, schools are required to provide access to the restroom that corresponds to a student’s gender identity at school, even when this differs from their sex assigned at birth. For example, a student whose sex assigned at birth is female but who identifies as male has a right under the law to use the restroom designated for male students if the student wishes, and it would be a violation of law to require this student to use the restroom designated for female students or an individual restroom. In communicating with students, families and staff about this requirement, schools may find it helpful to note that a private restroom option will be made available to any student.
In the third section…
Student Data and Records

1. What name and gender should be reported to the Public School Information System (PSIS)?If a transgender student requests a change to educational records to reflect the student’s stated gender identity and chosen name, schools should correct student education records to accurately reflect the student’s chosen name and gender identity, regardless of whether the student has completed a legal name change. Similarly, gender and name information reported in PSIS should reflect a student’s stated gender identity and chosen name.
And get a load of this! They even cover gender non-conforming students.
2. What if a student identifies as neither male nor female? In that case, what should be reported to the PSIS?Students who do not identify exclusively as male or female should be reported as Non-Binary in PSIS.
Then they go into what is gender identity and expression.

These are comprehensive documents and they should go a long way in helping school districts.

Just one other thing; in the Guidelines preamble the footnote reads,
1. This guidance document incorporates and draws information and best practice direction from the “Guidelines for Connecticut Schools to Comply with Gender Identity and Expression Non-Discrimination Laws,” issued by the Connecticut Safe School Coalition in 2012 after Public Act 11-55 was enacted. This guidance also reflects federal court and agency decisions as well as interpretive information. Access to the Connecticut Safe Schools Coalition Guidelines can be found at
http://www.ctschoollaw.com/files/2017/02/Guidelines_for_Schools_on_Gender_Identity_and_Expression_final_4-24-12.pdf.
I had the honor of being a member Connecticut Safe School Coalition when we were developing the guidelines for the CHRO.

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