Photo credit: Downey Daily Photos
Downey Unified School District Administration Building
Photo credit: Downey Daily Photos

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights announced that it had entered into an agreement with Downey Unified School District in Downey, CA to resolve a complaint that alleged school officials discriminated against a transgender elementary student.

The complaint alleged that the student was subjected to verbal harassment by peers and that staff at the student’s school disciplined him for wearing make-up, discouraged him from speaking about his gender identity with classmates and suggested that he transfer to another school.

(The press release said “her,” but let biology and common sense reflect that “he” is not a “she.”)

“Our federal civil rights laws protect all students from sex-based discrimination and harassment,” said Catherine E. Lhamon, assistant secretary for civil rights. “I commend the Downey Unified School District for entering into this agreement to ensure that each of its students, including transgender students and students who do not conform to stereotyped notions of masculinity or femininity, can learn in a safe, educational environment.”

The school requested to resolve the manner through a voluntary agreement.  The school district committed to take the following actions:

  • Engage a consultant with expertise on child and adolescent gender identity, including experience with discrimination against gender nonconforming and transgender students, to support and assist the District with implementing the provisions of the agreement;
  • Work with its consultant to ensure a school climate free of harassment by incorporating age-appropriate information for students on gender identity, gender-based discrimination and harassment;
  • Continue to treat the student the same as other female students in all respects in the education programs and activities offered by the District, including access to sex-designated facilities for female students;
  • Notify the student and the complainant that they may request that the District develop a Student Success Plan to ensure the student has equal access and opportunity to participate in all programs and activities, and is otherwise protected from gender-based discrimination at school;
  • Ensure that the student is not disciplined for acting or appearing in a manner that does not conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity;
  • Remove all discipline imposed on the student during the 2011˗12 school year from the student’s records;
  • Review District policies, procedures and regulations applicable to student participation in all programs and activities offered by the District and make necessary revisions to ensure that all students, including students who do not conform to sex stereotypes, are provided an equal opportunity to participate in all such programs and activities in a manner that does not discriminate based on sex, gender identity or gender expression;
  • Develop an implementation guide for administrators, faculty and staff that addresses how the District’s gender-based discrimination policies apply to transgender and gender nonconforming students;
  • Conduct mandatory training on issues related to gender nonconformance and gender-based harassment for District and school-site administrators who have the responsibility of investigating or supervising the investigation of gender-based harassment complaints and implementing other anti-discrimination policies and procedures regarding transgender and gender nonconforming students; and
  • Conduct annual school climate assessments, including a student and parent survey, to evaluate the effectiveness of the District’s bullying and harassment prevention efforts.

The Office of Civil Rights states they will “closely monitor the implementation of the agreement to ensure that the commitments made are implemented in a timely, effective manner.

Additional information in the agreement reveals:

For the duration of the Student’s enrollment in the District, with respect to District-controlled facilities, the District will continue to treat the Student the same as other female students in all respects in the education programs and activities offered by the District, including access to sex-designated facilities for female students at school, and at all District-sponsored activities, including overnight events, try-outs and participation in extracurricular activities on and off campus, consistent with her gender identity.  However, the Student may request access to private facilities based on privacy, safety, or other concerns.

So bathrooms, sleeping accommodations for overnight activities, etc. that are sex-designated facilities for girls will be provided to this boy who says he is a girl.  The feelings of the female students (and their parents) be damned evidently.  The student may request private facilities (which as a parent I would definitely prefer if I had a child enrolled there, but what if they are not available?  Will schools then have to provide that at the cost of taxpayers?) They address third-party facilities in a footnote.

With respect to District-sponsored or organized programs that take place in third party facilities outside of the District’s control, if the District learns that the Student has been denied access to sex-designated facilities for female students, the District will notify the third party or appropriate agency and cease contracting with or providing significant assistance to the third-party until appropriate policy changes are made.

So third parties will be pressured to change their own policies or lose the school’s business (and we are talking private property in some instances).  This is clear federal intrusion into the local schools and we can expect more of it as the Office of Civil Rights seems to be just getting ramped up.  This also compels the school to indoctrinate their staff, students, parents, etc. on what is the “approved” government view of gender identity.  You will be made to believe being transgendered is perfectly normal or face consequences.

10 comments
  1. Go, Dept of Education & Downey Unified! Obviously these new policies don’t result in any *actual* harm to other students, yet ensure that students who don’t fall into a strict sex & gender binary can also attain the opportunity of an equal education, as is their right under the law.

    1. A boy using the same bathroom as girls is necessary for an equal education? Please explain.

      Also cite what evidence you have that instances like these do not cause emotional harm to the non-transgendered students having to use the same facilities. You’re making, as far as I’m concerned, an unsubstantiated claim.

      1. Actually, as the parent of a trans kid who has heard far too many irrational rationalizations for such bias and hatred I can assure you that when trans kids use the bathroom, no non-trans kids are emotionally harmed. Their parents on the other hand are another matter, and the source of *all* the hate.

      2. First off, it is not hateful to not want to use (or have your child use) the same restroom as a member of the opposite sex (regardless of whether they see themselves that way or not that is completely irrelevant). Secondly, your assurances matter very little as you don’t have a clue what is going on with students who are subjected to this. Do you poll every child? Do you talk with every parent. You know first hand every single experience that takes place in sex-selective facilities? You make a blanket statement here that you can in no way back up with evidence.

        There are legitimate concerns which you want to just diminish and label hateful. We are not talking about allowing a transgender student to be picked on or bullied.

        How about you show some tolerance for those who disagree with you? (Which by my definition means we actually disagree so you have something to “tolerate.”)

      3. So tell me, then: What, precisely, is the real harm done to anyone else in that hypothetical bathroom of yours when a trans kid and a non-trans kid use it at the same time? Not “legitimate concerns”, either; I’m asking for the actual damage that you feel will be done to the non-trans child or children.

      4. I guess discomfort and embarrassment matters little to you. Some kids actually appreciate privacy, modesty… and this extends beyond bathrooms – locker rooms, etc. I’m sorry that you can’t comprehend the issues involved which makes me wonder what world you are living in.

        I’m not saying kids are going to be sexually abused, but let’s not pretend this is totally nothing.

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