School can be tough; friends, homework, and pop quizzes can all be sources of stress in a student’s life, but worrying about whether a school will respect gender identity should never be one of them. Transgender students, like all students, have legal protections when it comes to their rights in school. If you have a child in your life who is transgender, familiarizing yourself with these rights can help you and your student make the most out of their educational career. Below is a list of many of the rights, although certainly not all, that transgender students have when it comes to school.
KNOW YOUR RIGHTS
- Like all children, transgender students have the right to learn in a respectful, bully-free environment. Any form of harassment, including bullying based on gender identity, is prohibited in schools.
- Students have the right to be referred to by the pronouns and name which best fits their gender identity, even if their gender or name has not been legally changed. Students are not required to show proof of a legal gender change in order to have their gender identity respected.
- Students have the right to use restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities that best match their gender identity. Schools cannot force a transgender student to use a bathroom he/she/they do not feel comfortable with. In addition, schools cannot force a student to use a separate, private facility; however, if a student feels more comfortable in a separate restroom or locker room, they can ask for that to be accommodated.
- Students have the right to dress and present themselves according to their gender identity, including at events such as dances, graduations, and during extra-curricular activities that have gendered uniforms, such as music ensembles or cheerleading.
- Students have the right to participate in sports and gym classes that are consistent with their gender identity, however in the state of Illinois it is often required that you contact the school to learn more about the school’s specific policy as well as follow guidelines set forth with the IHSA (Illinois High School Association).
- Students have the right to create or join LGBTQA+ clubs, like Gay-Straight Alliance (GSA) or Pride Alliance.
For more information and resources about transgender rights in school, please visit the websites below. All children have the right to learn in an environment where they feel safe and respected. For legal advocacy send in your intake HERE for the staff at Harmening Law to review.
Information collected in part from the following resources: