Post submitted by Kimmie Fink, Welcoming Schools Consultant
Today, HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools released an “FAQ on Supporting Transgender and Non-Binary Students in K-12 Schools” to guide educators looking for answers on how to support students in the wake of an explosive report from the New York Times. According to the October 21 report, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is planning to adopt an anti-transgender legal definition of “sex” under Title IX that could gut enforcement of existing civil rights protections for LGBTQ people.
This proposal has many alarming implications, but it would be especially harmful to transgender and non-binary students if implemented by the U.S. Department of Education. We recognize that this leaves many educators wondering what the impact would be on the students in their care. School staff can turn to HRC Foundation’s Welcoming Schools’ newest resource for answers.
Educators need to know that, at this time, no changes to existing laws have been made. Similar to the withdrawal of the federal guidance on supporting transgender and non-binary students, even if this new definition were to be established, it would not remove existing federal and constitutional protections. Furthermore, federal courts have consistently affirmed the rights of transgender and non-binary students, finding that they may not be discriminated against on the basis of their gender identity.
The bottom line is this: the Trump-Pence administration’s proposal is not law. Furthermore, it does nothing to change the responsibility of educators to continue to proactively support transgender and non-binary students -- using their correct names and pronouns, allowing them to use facilities that correspond with their gender identity, and adopting anti-bullying and harassment policies that specifically enumerate sexual orientation, gender identity and gender expression. In fact, given this administration’s stance, the work by individual schools and districts to protect transgender and non-binary students is even more critical.
For more on how to support transgender and non-binary students, Welcoming Schools offers professional development trainings and free resources, including specific lesson plans and a book list. HRC Foundation’s resource “Schools In Transition: A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools” was designed to assist administrators, teachers, parents and other adults who serve transgender students and covers topics ranging from basic concepts of gender and the importance of affirming gender identity, to best practices for restroom access and working with unsupportive parents.
By implementing supportive policies and procedures and continuing to support transgender and non-binary students, schools can assure young people that not only do their rights remain intact, but that educators see them, respect them and care deeply about their well-being.
HRC Foundation's Welcoming Schools is the nation's premier professional development program providing training and resources to elementary school educators to:
- Welcome Diverse Families;
- Create LGBTQ and Gender Inclusive Schools;
- Prevent Bias-Based Bullying;
- Support Transgender and Non-Binary Students.