Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Education stated that Title IX nondiscrimination protections extend to gender identity and expression. This week, the DOE specified that K-12 schools must let transgender students participate in single-sex classes that align with their gender identity.
The new guidance is but one paragraph in a long memo, but it’s a milestone in the movement toward transgender equality. Not only does it reiterate the nondiscrimination standard announced earlier, it leaves no question about how to treat trans* students going forward.
Some schools might resist or ignore the directive, but not without scrutiny. Several school districts have been investigated already for discriminating against transgender students. In one case, a transgender boy was required to use a bathroom in the nurse’s office. In another, the school ignored a transgender girl’s complaints about bullying.
The DOE clarification feels exceedingly timely given the recent increase in single-sex classrooms. As the New York Times reports, there are currently about 1,600 public schools in the country with at least one single-sex class. This is an estimated increase of over 1,000% in the last decade. The tactic is especially popular among schools with lower standardized test scores. Single-sex instruction is likely to spread even more as a preliminary analysis of test scores showed 70% increases in math and reading scores for elementary students in single-sex classes.
It is important to note that the new guidance on same-sex classes does not formally apply to school sports, which fall under a different section of Title IX. School athletic organizations could take a cue, and act on their own initiative, as the Minnesota State High School League league has. Any policy that touches school sports tends to stir up public emotion. The sports league’s proposed policy made a lot of noise and heat in Minnesota, which could be a preview of a sensational national controversy to come.
Other Sexual Health News This Week
Experts Examine HIV/AIDS Epidemic in Pittsburgh Area (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)
Texas County Clerks Prepare for Same-Sex Marriages (Texas Observer)
Momentum Builds for Review of Same Sex Marriage (SCOTUSblog)
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