Baltimore City Schools are considering a set of policies regarding transgender and gender nonconforming students according to the Baltimore Sun, which if enacted would put them far ahead of most other school systems in the state, by more fully protecting the rights and dignity of those students. Only Frederick County currently has a specific, progressive policy supporting those students in a similar manner.
These policies, currently under consideration by the city school board would allow transgender students to use the names, pronouns and bathrooms that align with their gender identity. The policy also outlines a specific grievance reporting and investigation process.
Schools would be directed to use the name and pronoun that reflects their identity, regardless of whether or not the child has changed their legal name. Students would also have access to facilities that correspond with their gender identity and those who are uncomfortable with using a gender-segregated facility would be provided a “safe non-stigmatizing alternative,” however students could not be required to use a private restroom.
The prospective policy does not specifically address issues that may be unique to gender-specific schools. It also does not cover issues related to how LGBT students are treated in schools, or things such as health education, which is currently only taught from a heterosexual cisgender paradigm.
Implementation of these policies would be extremely helpful in the current environment where the Trump administration has actively worked to turn back protections for transgender students.
A 2017 national survey conducted by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) which works to support LGBTQ issues in schools found that 42% of transgender and gender nonconforming students had been prevented from using their preferred name or pronoun.
In addition, it found that about 45% of LGBTQ students felt unsafe at school because of their gender expression, and that more than a third had missed at least one day of school during the previous month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable. Nearly a fifth of these students reported that they felt they had to change schools because of these negative experiences.
The full school board is scheduled to discuss the policy this month, with a vote coming on a future date.