DOE Gets Failing Grade for So-called Transgender Student Memo

Jun 20, 2017

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has issued a memo to public schools and teachers explaining that refusal to refer to so-called transgender students by their preferred pronoun or name could be grounds for an investigation.

The OCR recently issued an internal memo “to explain the effects of developments on the enforcement of Title IX” regarding complaints involving so-called transgender students.

The memo, written by acting assistant secretary for civil rights Candice Jackson, lists several reasons why OCR investigators would assert “subject matter jurisdiction over and open [a case] for investigation.” For example, a school’s failure to quickly resolve a so-called transgender student’s complaint of sex discrimination or treating a student different because of his or her failure to conform to “stereotyped notions of masculinity or femininity.”

That list also includes “refusing to use a transgender student's preferred name or pronouns when the school uses preferred names for gender-conforming students or when the refusal is motivated by animus toward people who do not conform to sex stereotypes.” An investigation could be conducted if there is failure to assess whether sexual harassment or gender-based harassment of a “transgender student created a hostile environment.”

However, not included on the list of reasons for an investigation is the act of denying so-called transgender students the right to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their subjective gender. 

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