This week, the Austin Independent School District (AISD) added gender identity to the district’s non-discrimination policy to protect transgender employees and students.
The new policy states: “The District prohibits acts of any kind, including harassment, based on race, color, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, or any other basis prohibited by law (e.g., cyberbullying via social network sites). Retaliation against anyone involved in the complaint process is a violation of District policy and is prohibited.”
According to Community Impact Newspaper, a student and leaders in the LGBT community came together to testify.
Keisha Martinez, a clinical services director for a local organization for LGBT youth, explained in her testimony, “Creating a gender-inclusive space is accomplished by using appropriate gender pronouns and providing access to services in accordance with individuals’ authentic identity versus their designated gender at birth. … Policy changes are imperative.”
School districts that pass policies explicitly prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity take a crucial step toward creating a welcoming climate. Without such a policy, LGBT teachers and other staff members may be at risk for losing their jobs and students can become the target of harassment and discrimination in the classroom. HRC applauds AISD for taking this important step.
There are a number of concrete steps that schools can take to demonstrate their commitment to LGBT inclusiveness. Click here for examples of LGBT-friendly policies and practices schools should implement to fully welcome and affirm all students and families.