U.S. Department of Justice and Office for Civil Rights issue Joint Guidance on Protecting the Rights of Transgender Students

 

Today, the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”) issued joint Dear Colleague Letter (“DCL”) that outlines the departments’ interpretation of school districts’ obligations under Title IX relative to transgender students.   Specifically, the guidance states that school districts are obligated to:

  • Respond promptly and effectively to sex-based harassment of all students, including harassment based on a student’s actual or perceived gender identity, transgender status or gender transition;     

  • Treat students consistent with their gender identify even if their school records or identification documents indicate a different sex;

  • Allow students to participate in sex-segregated activities and access sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identify; and

  • Protect students’ privacy related to their transgender status under Title IX and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (“FERPA”).

In addition to the DCL, the US Department of Education’s Office for Elementary and Secondary Education (“OSEP”) released a guidance document titled Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students.  The guidance document is a compilation of policies and practices that, according to OSEP, are currently being implemented by some schools across the country to support transgender students.  The guidance document also shares some common questions and answers on topics such as school records and privacy.

A copy of the DCL and Guidance Document can be found in the Legal References – Guidance Documents – Federal section of this website.

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