The Mass. Dept. of Education just released new guidelines, Guidance for Massachusetts Public Schools Creating a Safe and Supportive School Environment Nondiscrimination on the Basis of Gender Identity, (in .pdf and .doc formats) which are designed to ease the lives of some public school students and make their school environment safer and more conducive to learning. The guidelines are meant to help schools comply with An Act Relative to Gender Identity, St. 2011, c.199, effective July 1, 2012. The Act prohibits gender based on discrimination in employment, housing public education, and credit and lending.
The new guidelines compel schools to develop plans to be accommodating and welcoming to transgender students, before the need arises, and recommendations in the guidelines include:
- use the names and pronouns students have chosen for themselves;
- ensure students can access restrooms, locker rooms, and changing facilities that correspond to their gender identity and provide a safe alternative such as single “unisex” restroom;
- adjust dress codes to be gender-neu8tral, including events like prom and graduation; and,
- incorporate gender identity into anti-bullying curriculum, student leadership training and staff professional development.