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Transgender Students: LSSD adopts new policies for 2021
Information regarding a student's transition may be kept from parents; transgender students' pronoun preferences, restroom access and athletic choices now protected by Policy No. 5590
On August 25, the Lake Stevens School District (LSSD) Board of Directors adopted sweeping gender-related policy that codifies and protects a student’s right to choose their gender-identity, name, personal pronouns, restrooms of choice and athletic teams of choice based on their gender identity.
In some cases, the District policy even cautions administrators from informing a student’s parents about their “transition” or gender status.
The new policy, dubbed “Gender Inclusive Schools”, was brought forward for discussion on July 14 and subsequently adopted by the board on August 25.
The policy addresses numerous pressing issues regarding the protection of transgender and “gender-expansive” student rights.
To whit: staff, students and administrators are to refer to students by their chosen names and pronouns, regardless of government name or birth certificate status; transgender students are allowed to access whichever restrooms they associate with their gender-identity, transgender and gender-diverse students will be allowed to choose boys or girls athletics in keeping with their own gender identity (subject to WIAA rules, which remain somewhat unclear and governed by the outcome of a set of hypothetical policy hearings).
On July 14, Assistant Superintendent John Balmer presented Policy No. 5590: Gender-Inclusive Schools to the board for their consideration. Balmer described the policy as “a proposal for a safe, civil, and inclusive environment.”
He informed the Board that each district in Washington State must adopt policies and procedures that incorporate OSPI's rules and guidelines.
A district team met six times to review policies and plans from other districts, as well as the model policy from the Washington State School Directors' Association (WSSDA), and sought feedback from others, with the stated mission of ensuring “the health and safety of students, as well as respect the learning community and be free of discrimination.”
The policy was adopted unanimously (by those present) at the August 25 Board of Directors meeting and is now official policy.
Details of Lake Stevens School District’s Gender-Inclusive Policy
From the preamble: “The Board recognizes the importance of an inclusive approach toward transgender and gender-expansive students with regard to key terms, communication and the use of names and pronouns, student records, confidential health and education information, communication, restroom and locker room use and accessibility, sports and physical education, dress codes, and other school activities in order to provide these students with an equal opportunity for learning and achievement.”
Regarding a student’s gender identity and family involvement:
Before contacting a student's parents, the school will consult with the student about the student's preferences regarding family involvement and honor those preferences.
“Before communicating with parents of transgender or gender expansive students, it's important to ask the student how school employees should refer to the student when talking with their parents and guardians. For families who are supportive, using the student's name and pronoun could be affirming for the student. For parents who are not supportive, or who are not aware of the student's transition at school, referring to their name and pronoun could be very dangerous.”
Regarding a student’s gender-identity, name and preferred pronoun:
“When a student discloses information to a teacher, counselor, or other staff member about their gender identity, the school counselor will privately ask the student how they want to be addressed in class, in correspondence to the home, and at conferences with the student's parent/guardian.”
The student's legal name should be accessible only to counselors and administrators. It should not be visible to teachers or other staff who have access to the electronic records system.
When appropriate or necessary, this information will be communicated directly with staff to facilitate the use of proper names and pronouns.
Regarding Restroom Accessibility
“Students will be allowed to use the restroom that corresponds to the gender identity they assert at school. No student will be required to use a restroom that conflicts with their gender identity.”
Any student-regardless of gender identity-who requests greater privacy should be given access to an alternative restroom. However, schools may not require a student to use an alternative restroom because of their transgender or gender-expansive status.
Regarding Locker Room Accessibility
Use of locker rooms by transgender or gender-expansive students will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, with the goal of maximizing transgender or gender-expansive student social integration, providing an equal opportunity to participate in physical education classes and athletic opportunities, and ensuring the student's safety and minimizing stigmatization of the student. The District will take an approach that conforms with OSPI's guidelines (OSPI guidelines call for transgender access to the locker room facilities that conform with their gender-identity).
“In most cases, the District should provide the student access to the locker room that corresponds to the gender identity they assert at school."
Regarding Sports and Physical Education Classes
The District will provide all students, including transgender and gender-expansive students, the opportunity to participate in physical education and athletic programs/opportunities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity.
A student may seek review of their eligibility for participation in interscholastic athletics by working through the Gender Identity Participation procedure set forth by the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association (WIAA).
Download/View Policy No. 5590 here.
View Board Discussion of Policy in July 14 minutes here.
View/download WIAA “Gender Diversity Toolkit” here.
View OSPI guidance documents referenced in model policies here:
Schools in Transition:(link is external) A Guide for Supporting Transgender Students in K-12 Schools
Growing Up Trans(link is external) (PBS Frontline)
Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students(link is external) (U.S. Department of Education)