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At the District 65 School Board’s Policy Committee meeting on Oct. 15, Joyce Bartz, Assistant Superintendent of Special Services, and Joaquin Stevenson, Director of Equity and Family Engagement, presented the District’s Administrative Procedure No. 7:10 (AP 7:10) that implements the Board’s policy regarding supports for transgender and gender expressive students.
Superintendent Paul Goren said, “The Board has already implemented the policy. These are the administrative procedures to implement it.”
“This Procedure is intended to ensure that all students are welcomed, valued, included, and respected; to help schools ensure safe learning environments free of discrimination, harassment, and bullying; and to promote the educational and social integration of transgender and gender expansive students,” says AP 7:10.
AP 7:10 requires the Superintendent to establish a District-wide “Gender Support Team” to support transgender and gender expansive students. This team will consist of the Assistant Superintendent of Special Services, the head nurse, a school social worker or psychologist, and other staff selected by the Superintendent.
Each school shall designate a staff member to serve as the point person within the school (“School Coordinator”) to coordinate support for transgender and gender expansive students.
In order to ensure that a student is supported in school, AP 7:10 recommends that the school, the student, and parents (with some qualifications) meet and discuss providing support to a transgender and gender expansive student, which may include “confidentiality of gender transition or gender identity, a timeline for the transition to create the conditions supporting a safe and accepting environment at the school, access to restrooms and other gender-segregated facilities, method for affirming the student’s preferred name and gender identity, disclosure of the student’s gender identity to teachers, and other issues as necessary.”
AP 7:10 provides that the District may initiate the discussions with the student, and it states how the District should address a situation where a family may not be aware that their child is transgender or gender expansive, or is not accepting of it.
At the request of a student or a students’ parents/guardians, the Gender Support Team and School Coordinator shall develop a Gender Support Plan addressing the “expressed needs and wishes” of a transgender or gender expansive student. Transgender and gender expansive students, however, are not required to have a such a plan.
Names and Pronouns
Under AP 7:10, “A student has a right to request that the student be referred to by a name and pronouns that correspond to the student’s gender identity by all school staff and fellow students.”
Also “Students age 12 and over or the parent(s)/guardian(s) have a right to request that the District change the student’s name and/or gender marker in the centralized electronic database.”
AP 7:10 makes clear that neither a court order nor a medical or psychological documentation is necessary to change the student’s name or gender marker with the District.
Access to Facilities
“Transgender and gender expansive students shall have access to gendered facilities and school-sponsored programs that are consistent with the student’s gender identity,” says AP 7:10.
As an example, “Students shall have access to restrooms that correspond to their gender identity regardless of the student’s sex assigned at birth. No student shall be required to use a single-stall restroom because the student is transgender or gender expansive. The discomfort of other students is not a reason to deny a transgender student access to a restroom. Regardless of gender identity, any student who has a need or desire for increased privacy should be provided access to a reasonable alternative, such as a single-stall restroom.”
Similar provisions ensure access to locker rooms, school programs, trips, and athletic programs.
AP 7:10 contains other provisions to support transgender and gender expansive students and ensure equity.
School Board Members’ Comments
Board President Suni Kartha said when the Board first talked about a transgender policy, members talked about creating a task force comprised of parents who have transgender students at the District and also to include transgender students at Evanston Township High School, who could provide input on challenges they faced at District 65. Ms. Kartha requested that a task force be created.
Board member Rebeca Mendoza said, “Before we implement anything, we need to be sure we have stakeholder input.” She said, “We need to make sure there is not unintended harm because we don’t have the right people at the table.”
Superintendent Paul Goren said administrators could gather input as they move forward.
Board member Candance Chow raised a question about a 12-year old requesting a name change on the District’s records. Ms. Bartz said the entire administrative procedure was run by the lawyers. The name of a younger student could be changed if requested by a parent or approved on a case-by-case basis.
Board member Joey Hailpern suggested that school libraries have books that include transgender people. Ms. Bartz agreed.
Board member Anya Tanyavutti noted that when the District collected data, students currently only indicate if they are male or female. She suggested the District allow for gender nonconforming students. She also asked about the possibility of the District disaggregating data based on gender identity to help understand whether there was a disparate impact on students based on gender identity.
Ms. Kartha thanked staff for their work on the implementation plan, and asked that names of people on the Gender Support Team and the School Coordinators be posted on the District’s website.
Definitions of Transgender And Gender Expansive
These definitions are taken from the District’s Administrative Procedure 7:10:
“Transgender is a term that describes individuals whose gender identity is different from what is assumed based on their sex assigned at birth, and/or whose gender expression is different from the way males or females are stereotypically expected to look or behave. This term applies to identity but not necessarily body parts. This is an umbrella term for a variety of gender identities and expressions.”
“Gender Expansive (also called Gender Nonconforming, Gender Variant, or Gender Creative) is a term that refers to individuals whose gender expression does not follow social expectations or stereotypes based on their sex assigned at birth. It may (or may not) include a change in gender identity. For example, a person with sex assigned at birth as male could say: “I am a girl and I like to express femininity.” Or “I am a boy and I like to express femininity.”