California school district makes positive changes for transgender students

The Arcadia Unified School District in California and the U.S. Department of Education have reached an agreement to end the case concerning discrimination against a transgender student. The outcome is a victory for transgender students, and the district will immediately take steps to treat the transgender male student named in the case with the same respect as his peers.

The district is working to establish “a safe, nondiscriminatory learning environment for students who are transgender or do not conform to gender stereotypes,” according to the case release. Other changes will include reconstructing policies to designate gender-based discrimination, which includes discrimination based on a student’s gender identity, transgender status and nonconformity with gender stereotypes, as a form of discrimination based on sex.

The investigation into this case began in 2011, when the Department of Justice received allegations of multiple instances of discrimination against a transgender student that occurred during his sixth and seventh grade years.

According to the original complaint, Arcadia school district officials allegedly prohibited the student from using the male restroom and locker room facilities during an overnight camping trip sponsored by the school district. They also made him stay in a separate cabin, away from his classmates, with his parent or chaperone.

The student has attended Arcadia since kindergarten and is now in the ninth grade. He identified as male from early childhood, transitioning socially in the fifth grade.

“All students, including transgender students, have the right to attend school free from discrimination based on their sex,” said Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department.  “We commend the district for taking affirmative steps to ensure that this student and his peers can continue to learn and thrive in a safe and nondiscriminatory environment.”

“Our commitment to civil rights enforcement runs deep and nowhere is that commitment more meaningful than in our schools,” said André Birotte, Jr., United States Attorney for the Central District of California. “This agreement helps ensure continued advancement towards equal rights under the law for all students.”

GLAAD recently reported on a case dealing with a transgender student who faced discrimination during his graduation this past May. Educators and administrators need to promote a safe environment for all students. As cases like these arise, it is important that the media pay close attention, and report on decision that like this that take a step in the right direction for the safety of transgender students.