School Committee passes transgender student policy

  • Northampton High School

Published: 8/13/2017 5:46:45 PM

NORTHAMPTON — School Committee here voted on Thursday to approve a policy that expands protections to transgender and gender nonconforming students and employees of Northampton Public Schools.

“The policy you are asking about was drafted by the rules and policy subcommittee and serves to formalize what already has been the practice In NPS for quite some time,” Edward Zuchowski, vice chairman of the School Committee, wrote the Gazette in an email.

While that may be, Zuchowski and Superintendent John Provost said the policy is nevertheless valuable.

“The importance of the policy is to communicate to the community that we are very proactive in ensuring nondiscrimination on the basis of transgender or gender nonconforming status,” Provost said, stressing that the policy had been the district’s practice for some time. “In terms of the day-to-day practice in our district, students and staff will not recognize any differences.”

As part of the unanimously passed policy, Northampton schools will “take reasonable steps to protect students’ privacy related to their gender, transgender or gender nonconforming status, including their birth name or sex assigned at birth to the extent permissible by law.”

The policy also accept students’ assertion of their gender identity when it is “sincerely held as part of a person’s core identity,” and asserts students right to be addressed by and amend education records to match names and pronouns corresponding with their gender identity. Those records can be changed retroactively if a student transitions after graduation.

For students transitioning, “parental participation is not required” in the decision to change records. Under the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, however, parents and guardians can legally request access to those changed.

In addition, all students are allowed access to restrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities that correspond to their gender identity, and gender-neutral facilities are provided when possible, though “under no circumstances will a student be required to use gender neutral facilities because they are transgender or gender nonconforming.”

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