Feds: Transgender Teen May Use Boys’ Locker Room

Nirvi Shah
July 25, 2013

The U.S. Justice and Education departments said Wednesday that a transgender California student who is anatomically female but lives life as a male must be able to use school bathrooms, locker rooms and other facilities designed for boys.

The first-of-its-kind decision from the agencies tasks the Arcadia school district outside Los Angeles to change district policies and practices to accommodate the rising ninth-grade student. Teachers and staff must be trained in how to prevent gender discrimination, and federal agencies will be keeping tabs on the district through at least 2016.

The Arcadia school district also agreed to keep the student’s birth name and any records that indicate his natural sex confidential.

The student, whose identity has also been kept out of documents associated with his case, would have the right to request a private locker room and other facilities for the sake of privacy or safety. He must also be allowed to participate in any school activities on and off campus that are intended for boys.

The Education and Justice departments have forced districts to change policies and practices to better protect students who are transgender, including in Minnesota and elsewhere in California. But those protections, primarily intended to prevent bullying and harassment, have been part of agreements to protect all students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender.

Wednesday’s resolution is the latest in a series of actions by the Obama administration sending a message to schools about the treatment of LGBT students. The White House has hosted bullying summits on the issue. The Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights has sent districts a letter reminding them of their responsibilities to protect students against discrimination based on gender, race, religion, and sexual orientation. And the Education Department has affirmed the right of students to form gay-straight clubs that have the same privileges as other clubs and school groups.

The 10,000-student school district did not immediately return a phone message.