Last Revised: 15 November 2021

Introduction

The purpose of this policy is:

  1. to foster an educational environment that is safe, welcoming, and free from stigma and discrimination for all students, regardless of gender identity or expression,
  2. to facilitate compliance with local and federal laws concerning bullying, harassment, privacy, and discrimination to include gender identity and expression,
  3. to ensure that all students have the opportunity to express themselves and live authentically.

Definitions

These definitions are provided not for the purpose of labeling students but rather to assist in understanding this policy and the legal obligations of school and personnel. Students may or may not use these terms to describe themselves or their experiences.

BULLYING

Written, verbal, or physical conduct, including via electronic communication, that is sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive to limit a student’s ability to participate in, or benefit from, a program or activity; or to create a hostile or abusive educational environment, adversely affecting a student’s education, including acts of verbal, nonverbal, or physical aggression or intimidation. This includes bullying that is based on a student’s actual or perceived race, color, national origin, sex, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, religion, or another distinguishing characteristic. This also includes conduct that targets a student because of a characteristic of a friend, family member, or other person or group with whom a student associates. Bullying is frequently referred to as harassment when it pertains to a characteristic protected by non-discrimination laws.

GENDER EXPRESSION

The manner in which a person represents or expresses gender to others, often through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, activities, voice, or mannerisms.

GENDER IDENTITY

A person’s deeply held knowledge of their own gender, which can include being female, male, another gender, or no gender. Gender identity is an innate and largely inflexible part of a person’s identity. One’s gender identity can be the same or different than the gender assigned at birth. The responsibility for determining an individual’s gender identity rests with the individual. Children typically begin to understand their own gender identity by age four, although the age at which individuals come to understand and express their gender identity may vary based on each person’s social and familial development.

GENDER NONCONFORMING

A term sometimes used to describe people whose gender expression differs from stereotypical expectations, such as “feminine” boys, “masculine” girls, and people who are perceived as androgynous in some way. Most gender nonconforming people are not transgender. For example, a non-transgender girl who has short hair and likes sports might be considered gender nonconforming. The term “gender nonconforming” is also sometimes used to refer to people whose gender identity is not male or female.

NONBINARY/GENDERQUEER

These are terms often used to describe people whose gender is not exclusively male or female, including those who identify with a gender other than male or female, as more than one gender, or as no gender.

SEXUAL ORIENTATION

A person’s romantic and/or physical attraction to people of the same and/or another gender, such as being straight, gay, bisexual, or asexual. Transgender and gender nonconforming people may have any sexual orientation.

TRANSGENDER

An adjective describing a person whose gender identity is different from that traditionally associated with the gender they were thought to be when they were born. A transgender girl is a girl who was thought to be male when she was born. A transgender boy is a boy who was thought to be female when he was born. Some transgender people have a gender that is neither male nor female, and may use terms like non-binary to describe their gender.

TRANSITION

The process in which a person begins to live according to their gender identity, rather than the gender they were thought to be at birth. Transition is a process that is different for everyone, and it may or may not involve social, legal, or physical changes. There is no one step or set of steps that an individual must undergo in order to have their gender identity affirmed and respected.

Scope

This policy covers conduct that takes place in the school, on school property, at school-sponsored functions and activities, on school buses or vehicles, and during a student’s commute to and from school. This policy also pertains to usage of electronic communication that occurs in the school, on school property, at school-sponsored functions and activities, on school buses or vehicles, and on school computers, networks, social media sites, as well as any electronic communication that is directed at a student and that substantially interferes with the student’s ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by the Clerc Center.
This policy applies to the entire school community, including teachers, staff, students, parents, and volunteers.

Bullying, Harassment, and Discrimination

Discrimination, bullying, and harassment on the basis of gender identity or expression is prohibited at the Clerc Center. It is the responsibility of KDES and MSSD and all teachers and staff to ensure that all students, including transgender and gender nonconforming students, have safe school environments. The scope of this responsibility includes ensuring that any incident of discrimination, harassment, or bullying is given immediate attention, including investigating the incident, taking age- and developmentally-appropriate action, and providing students, and teachers and staff with appropriate resources and supports. Enforcement of anti-bullying policies should focus on education and prevention rather than exclusionary discipline. Complaints alleging discrimination or harassment based on a student’s actual or perceived gender identity or expression are to be taken seriously and handled in the same manner as other discrimination, bullying, or harassment complaints.

Privacy/Confidentiality

The Clerc Center shall ensure that all personally identifiable and medical information relating to transgender and gender nonconforming students shall be kept confidential in accordance with applicable local and federal privacy laws. KDES and MSSD teachers and staff shall not disclose any information that may reveal a student’s transgender status to others, including parents or guardians and other teachers and staff, unless legally required to do so or unless the student has authorized such disclosure. In the rare instance that the Clerc Center is legally required to disclose a student’s transgender status, the Clerc Center will provide the student an opportunity to make that disclosure themselves, where practicable. This includes providing the student with any support services the student would need to make the disclosure in a safe and supportive environment.
Transgender and gender nonconforming students have the right to discuss and express their gender identity and expression openly and to decide when, with whom, and how much to share private information. The fact that a student chooses to use a different name, to transition at school, or to disclose their transgender status to teachers/staff or other students does not authorize an employee to disclose a student’s personally identifiable or medical information. Before contacting the parent or guardian of a transgender student, teachers and staff should ask the student whether to use their chosen name and the pronouns that correspond to their gender identity, or whether to use their legal name. (See “Student Transitions” below.)

Media and Community Communication

When communicating to the media or community about issues related to gender identity or expression, the Clerc Center shall have a single spokesperson to address the issue. Rather than directly commenting on the issue, other teachers and staff shall direct parents and the media to the designated spokesperson. Protecting the privacy of transgender and gender nonconforming students must be a top priority for the spokesperson and all teachers/staff, and all personally identifiable and medical information shall be kept strictly confidential, in accordance with local and federal privacy laws

Names, Pronouns, and School Records

Every student has the right to be addressed by a name and pronouns that correspond to the student’s gender identity. Regardless of whether a transgender or gender nonconforming student has legally changed their name or gender, the Clerc Center will allow such students to use a chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their identity. It is recommended that teachers/staff privately ask transgender or gender nonconforming students how they want to be addressed in class and in the school’s communication with the student’s parents or guardians.
Some transgender and gender nonconforming youth may request to use “he” or “she” pronouns, while others may feel most comfortable being addressed by gender-neutral pronouns such as “they” or “ze” or just referred to by their names (without pronouns).
If the student has previously been known at school by a different name, the school administration will direct teachers and staff to use the student’s chosen name and appropriate pronouns. To ensure consistency among teachers and staff, every effort will be made to immediately update student
education records (such as attendance reports, class rosters for substitutes, school IDs, transcripts, electronic records, etc.) with the student’s chosen name and appropriate gender markers.
In some circumstances, administrators may be specifically required by law to record a student’s name or gender as it appears on documents such a current birth certificate. In those instances, school administrators shall record this information in a separate, confidential file to avoid the inadvertent disclosure of the information. All records that are not specifically required by law to match government-issued documents shall be updated upon a student’s request.

Access to Gender-Segregated Activities and Facilities

With respect to all residential facilities, restrooms, locker rooms, or changing facilities, students shall have access to facilities that correspond to their gender identity. KDES and MSSD maintains separate restroom, residential, and locker room facilities for male and female students, along with some facilities that are ‘all gender’ and are used by one person at a time, but allows all students equal access to facilities that are consistent with their gender identity. Students, including nonbinary students, should determine which facilities are consistent with their gender identity. Any student who is uncomfortable using a shared gender-segregated facility, regardless of the reason, shall, upon the student’s request, be provided with a safe and non-stigmatizing alternative. This may include, for example, addition of a privacy partition or curtain, single dorm room with private bath, provision to use a nearby private restroom or office, or a separate changing schedule. However, such alternatives shall only be provided to a student upon that student’s request. Requiring a transgender or gender nonconforming student to use a separate space against their wishes threatens to stigmatize the student and disclose their transgender status to others.
Under no circumstances may students be required to use gender- segregated facilities that are inconsistent with their gender identity.
KDES and MSSD may designate some existing facilities that are designed to be used by only one person at a time as accessible to all students regardless of gender. However, under no circumstances shall a student be required to use a single-user facility because they are transgender or gender nonconforming. Upon building renovations and whenever possible, KDES and MSSD may incorporate more single-user facilities and greater privacy into new construction or renovation, and to assess ways to increase privacy for all students in existing facilities.

Physical Education Classes and Intramural and Interscholastic Athletics

All students shall be permitted to participate in physical education classes and intramural sports in a manner consistent with their gender identity. Furthermore, all students shall be permitted to participate in interscholastic athletics in a manner consistent with their gender identity, under the guidelines established by the local interscholastic association.

Other Gender-Based Activities, Rules, Policies and Practices

Students shall be permitted to participate in any school activity or conform to any such rule, policy, or practice consistent with their gender identity. This includes classroom activities, school ceremonies, and school photos.

Dress Code

Students shall have the right to dress in accordance with their gender identity and expression, including maintaining a gender neutral appearance within the constraints of the school’s or Student Life’s dress codes. Teachers and staff shall not enforce the school’s dress code more strictly against transgender and gender nonconforming students than other students.

Student Transitions

The Clerc Center shall accept the gender identity that each student asserts. There is no medical or mental health diagnosis or treatment threshold that students must meet in order to have their gender identity recognized and respected. The assertion may be evidenced by an expressed desire to be consistently recognized as the sex consistent with their gender identity. Students ready to socially transition may initiate a process to change their name, pronoun, attire, and access to gender-related programs, activities, and facilities consistent with their gender identity. Each student has a unique process for transitioning. The Clerc Center shall customize support to optimize each student’s equal access to educational programs and activities.

Training and Professional Development

The Clerc Center shall conduct training for all teachers and staff members on their responsibilities under applicable laws and this policy. Information regarding this policy shall be incorporated into training for new school employees. To the extent funding is available, the Clerc Center shall implement ongoing professional development to build the skills of all employees to prevent, identify and respond to bullying, harassment, and discrimination. The content of such professional development shall include, but not be limited to:

  1. terms, concepts, and current developmental understandings of gender identity, gender expression, and gender diversity in children and adolescents;
  2. developmentally appropriate strategies for communication with students and parents about issues related to gender identity and gender expression that protect student privacy;
  3. developmentally appropriate strategies for preventing and intervening in bullying incidents, including cyberbullying;
  4. classroom-management practices, curriculum, and resources that educators can integrate into their classrooms to help foster a more gender-inclusive environment for all students;
  5. Clerc Center and Gallaudet University policies regarding bullying, harassment, discrimination, and suicide prevention and responsibilities of teachers and staff.

Publication

This policy will be distributed annually to students, parents/guardians, and employees, and it will also be included in any student codes of conduct, disciplinary policies, student handbooks, and school websites.