GENDER IDENTITY AND EXPRESSION
The Northfield Board of Education believes that a school culture that supports student achievement, respects the values of all students and fosters understanding of gender identity and expression within the school community is a safe learning environment. New Jersey law and district policy require that all programs, and activities be free from discrimination based on sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression. Therefore in keeping with these mandates the board is committed to creating a safe learning environment for all students and to ensure that every student has equal access to all school program and activities.
The board believes that fostering this understanding successfully requires cooperation and good communication between the parents/guardians, school administration, school staff and the school community. The superintendent shall ensure that students with gender identity or expression concerns and their parents/guardians shall be given the opportunity to discuss these issues and participate in the educational planning and programing for their student. The superintendent may consult the experiences and expertise of qualified school staff as well as external resources where appropriate.
To proactively plan for a safe learning environment free of discrimination and harassment students and parents/guardians of students with gender identity and expression concerns are encouraged to alert the school district and schedule a meeting with the superintendent. Upon request, the superintendent shall schedule a meeting with the parent/guardian and the student for the purpose of evaluating the needs of the student and planning any accommodations that may be considered to facilitate a respectful and comfortable school program that supports the student’s achievement.
A. “Gender identity” is a person’s deeply held sense or psychological knowledge of their own gender, regardless of the gender they were born with. Everyone has a gender identity.
B. “Transgender” is a term which describes people whose gender identity or gender expression is different from their gender at birth.
C. “Gender expression” refers to the way a person expresses gender to others in ways that are socially defined as either masculine or feminine, such as through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, activities, voice or mannerism.
D. “Transition” refers to the process in which a person goes from living and identifying as one gender to living and identifying as another.
Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying
The board is committed to maintaining a safe and supportive learning and educational environment and shall take all the measures required by law and board policies 5131.1 Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying and 2224, 3111.1/42111.1 and 6121 Nondiscrimination/Affirmative Action to prevent harassment, intimidation, bullying and discrimination on account of actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ancestry, age, sex, affectional or sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disabilities, social or economic status, pregnancy, childbirth, pregnancy related disabilities, actual or potential parenthood, family status or other distinguishing characteristic.
Complaints alleging discrimination shall be reported to the school affirmative action office according to board policies (2224, 4111.1/4211.1 and 6121 Nondiscrimination/Affirmative Action).
Any student experiencing or observing harassment, intimidation and/or bullying is encouraged to report the incident to a member of the school staff. Any staff member observing or receiving a report of harassment, intimidation or bullying shall report the incident to the principal the same day the incident is observed or report receive according to board policy 5131.1 –Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying. All reported incidents of discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying shall be promptly investigated and resolved according to law and board policy.
Confidentiality and Privacy
Superintendent and designee may not disclose any information that may reveal a student’s transgender or gender status, except as allowed by law. Under the Family Education Rights Privacy Act (FERPA), only those school employees with a legitimate educational need may have access to a student’s records or the information contained within those records. Disclosing confidential student information to other employees, students, parent/guardians, or other third parties may violate privacy laws, including but not limited to FERPA. Transgender students have the ability, as do all students, to discuss and express their gender identity and expression openly and decide when, with whom, and how much of their private information to share with others.
Students who do not want their parents/guardians to know about their transgender status shall be addressed on a case-by-case basis. In some cases, notifying parent/guardian carries risks of the student, such as being kicked out of the home. Prior to notification of any parent/guardian regarding the transition process, school staff should work closely with the student to assess the degree to which, if any, the parent/guardian will be involved in the process and must consider the health, well-being, and safety of the
transgender student. The school counselor shall balance the rights to the student needing support and the requirement that parents/guardians be kept informed about their child. In accordance with law, parents/guardians and/or the appropriate local officials shall be informed when there is any suspicion of injury or harm to the student or other students.
Coordination of School Accommodations
In planning appropriate accommodations for a student who is transgender , the superintendent, parents/guardians and the student and other qualified staff or consultants as necessary shall meet to discuss actions that the district and school personnel may take to create safe learning environment, including:
A. Names/Pronouns –
School staff shall be directed to address the student by the name and pronoun corresponding to their gender identity that is consistently asserted at school. Students are not required to obtain a court ordered name and/or gender change or to change their students records as a prerequisite to being addressed by the name and pronoun that corresponds to their gender identity. To the extent possible and consistent with these guidelines, school personnel shall make efforts to maintain the confidentiality of the student’s transgender status.
B. Sports and Physical Education
Transgender students shall be provided the same opportunities to participate in physical education as are all other students. Generally, students may be permitted to participate in physical education and sports in accordance with the student’s gender identity that is consistently asserted at school.
C. Restroom and Locker Room Accessibility
The district aims to support transgender students while also ensuring the safety and comfort of all students. The superintendent together with the parents/guardians, student and other qualified staff or consultants shall evaluate options for the use of restrooms and locker rooms by the transgender students and consider the following factors, including, but not limited to:
1. The transgender student’s preference;
2. Protecting student privacy;
3. Maximizing social integration of the transgender student;
4. Minimizing stigmatization of the student;
5. Ensuring equal opportunity to participate;
6. The students’ ages; and
7. Protecting the safety of the students involved.
Generally students may have access to the restroom or locker room that corresponds to the gender identity or expression that they consistently assert at school and no student shall be forced to accept an accommodation with which he/she disagrees. A transgender or transitioning student who expresses a need or desire for increased privacy may be provided with reasonable alternative arrangements. Any alternative arrangement shall be provided to the extent possible in a way that protects the student’s ability to keep his or her transgender status confidential.
A transgender student should not be required to use a locker room or restroom that conflicts with the student’s gender identity or expression consistently asserted at school.
D. Gender Segregation in Other Areas
As a general rule, in any other circumstances where students are separated by gender in school activities (i.e. overnight field trips), students may be permitted to participate in accordance with the gender identity or expression consistently asserted at school. Activities that may involve the need for accommodations to address student privacy concerns will be addressed on a case-by-case basis considering the facts set forth above.
E. Dress Code
Students have the right to dress in accordance with their gender identity or expression that is consistently asserted at school, within the constraints of the school policy for student dress (5132 Student Dress). School staff shall not enforce a school’s dress code more strictly against transgender and transitioning transgender students than other students.
The superintendent and/or his/her designees are expected to work closely with the student and his/her parents/guardians in formulating an appropriate plan regarding the confidentiality of the student’s transgender or transitioning status that works for both the student and the school. Privacy considerations may also vary with the ages of the student.
Where the transgender or transitioning student feels more supported and safe when other students are aware that they are transgender or transitioning, school staff shall be given guidance and training appropriate for facilitating a respectful school climate. School personnel may be directed to work closely with the student, parents/guardians, other family members and other staff members on a plan to inform and educate the student’s peers. It may also be appropriate to engage external resources to assist with educational efforts.
Resources for Transgender or Transitioning Students
If a school staff member observes that a gender identity issue is creating challenges for a student at school or if a student indicates an intention to transition, the staff member shall alert the school counselor and encourage the student to meet with the school counselor if appropriate. School staff shall make every effort to support the student and encourage the support and respect of student peers and staff during school.
When a student indicates an intention to transition, the school counselor, as appropriate, shall offer assistance and provide the student, and/or their parents/guardians as appropriate, with information, resources and referral services regarding the issues associated with gender identity and expression and/or formal gender transition. The school counselor shall also provide information regarding gender transition planning at school. The counselor shall coordinate the measures planned and taken at school for supporting the student and creating a sensitive supportive environment at school. These measures may include:
A. Making resources available to parents/guardians who have additional questions or concerns;
B. Developing age-appropriate lessons for students about gender diversity and acceptance: and
C. Staff training surrounding vigilance to prevent possible harassment, intimidation and bullying issues that may arise for transgender or transitioning students.
Reports of harassment, intimidation and bullying shall be promptly investigated and resolved according to board policy 5131.1 Harassment, Intimidation and Bullying.
The District is required to maintain a permanent student record which includes the student’s legal name and the student’s gender. The District will change a student’s official records to reflect a change in legal name upon receipt of:
1. Documentation that the student’s legal name or gender has been changed pursuant to a court order or through amendment of state or federally-issued identification; or
2. An affidavit explaining that the student has exercised a common-law name change and has changed their name for all intents and purposes and that the change has not been made for fraudulent reasons.
Schools may change a student’s official gender designation upon parent request pursuant to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction’s (OSPI’S) process.
To the extent that the District is not legally required to use a student’s legal name and biological sex on school records or documents, the District should use the name and gender by which the student identifies. In situations where school employees are required by law to use or report a student’s legal name or gender, school staff should adopt practices to avoid the inadvertent disclosures of the student’s transgender or gender nonconforming status.
Adopted: September 26, 2016
Gender Identity, Transgender, Gender Expression, Gender Non-conforming
Legal References: N.J.S.A. 2C:16-1 Bias intimidation
N.J.S.A. 2C:33-4 Harassment
GENDER IDENTITY OR EXPRESSION (continued)
N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq. Law Against Discrimination
N.J.S.A. 18A:65 Inquiry as to religion and religious tests prohibited
N.J.S.A. 18A:6-6 No sex discrimination
N.J.S.A. 18A:261 Citizenship of teachers, etc.
N.J.S.A. 18A:26-1.1 Residence requirements prohibited
N.J.S.A. 18A:292 Equality of compensation for male and female teachers
N.J.S.A. 18A:3714 Harassment, intimidation, and bullying defined; through-19 definitions
N.J.S.A. 18A:3620 Discrimination; prohibition
N.J.A.C. 6A:7-1.1 et. seq. Managing for Equality and Equity in Education
N.J.A.C. 6A:30-1.1 et seq. Evaluation of the Performance of School Districts
N.J.A.C. 6A:3212.1 Reporting requirements
N.J.A.C. 6A:3214.1 Review of mandated programs and services
Executive Order 11246 as amended
29 U.S.C.A. 201 – Equal Pay Act of 1963 as amended
20 U.S.C.A. 1681 – Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972
42 U.S.C.A. 2000e et seq. – Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as amended by the Equal Employment Opportunities Act of 1972
Comprehensive Equity Plan, New Jersey Department of Education
Doe v. Regional School Unit 26, No. 12-582 (Me. Jan 30, 2014)
NJSIAA, Constitution, Bylaws, Rules and Regulations, Transgender Policy (pg. 75),
Possible Cross References:
*2224 Nondiscrimination/affirmative action
*4111 Recruitment, selection and hiring
*4111.1 Nondiscrimination/affirmative action
*4131/4131.1 Staff development; inservice education education/visitations/conferences
*4211 Recruitment, selection and hiring
*4211.1 Nondiscrimination/affirmative action
*4231/4231.1 Staff development; inservice education/visitations/conferences
Continuation to Possible Cross References:
*5131.1 Harassment, intimidation and bullying
*5145.4 Equal educational opportunity
*6121 Nondiscrimination/affirmative action
*6145 Extracurricular activities
*Indicates policy is included in the Critical Policy Reference Manual.
The following organizations provide support to transgender individuals:
GLSEN (The Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network) model policy. GLSEN is a prominent organization supporting GLBT youth. They have resources about creating safe and supportive environments for students.
The Trevor Project is the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth.