Federal civil rights officials reached an important settlement late last month with a California school district accused of discriminating against a transgender student by denying him equal access to educational programs and activities. Under the agreement, the Arcadia Unified School District in California will revise its policies and ensure that the student, who was born female but has since assumed a male name and identity, is treated fairly and like other male students. The agreement should be required reading for school officials at all levels nationally.
The case involved a child who was anatomically female but began to identify as a boy at an early age, assuming a male first name and wearing boys’ clothes. By the end of fifth grade, the student’s classmates accepted the transformation, but the school district would not let the matter go. Despite warnings from experts that the student should be treated as a boy in all settings, school officials singled him out in ways that brought unwanted attention and made the gender transformation much more difficult. He was given a separate dressing area for physical education class — which isolated him from friends — and assigned to a distant, cross-campus restroom, the use of which required him to miss class time.