It’s all the rage these days for transgender students (or their parents) to sue or make a big fuss because their genitalia doesn’t match the bathrooms and locker rooms they prefer to use.
The latest flare-up occurred in a quiet, expensive suburb northeast of Los Angeles. The Arcadia Unified School District in Arcadia, Calif. finalized an agreement with the U.S. Department of Education to terminate a Title IX investigation into allegations of discrimination against a transgender middle schooler, reports the Los Angeles Times.
The agreement resolves a complaint pressed by the Department of Education and filed on behalf of an unnamed student who was born female but wants to be a male.
The complaint alleges that school officials prevented the female student from using the boys’ bathrooms and locker rooms in sixth and seventh grades just because she doesn’t have a penis. The complaint also alleges that school officials didn’t allow the student to stay in a cabin with boys during a district-sponsored overnight camp. Instead the student was allegedly required to stay in a cabin separate from both male and female students.
The Arcadia school board unanimously approved the agreement this week, promising to take immediate steps to ensure that the transgender student will now be treated like other male students. In addition, the district promised to treat gender-based discrimination as a form of sex discrimination henceforth.
“I am glad that my school district has agreed to put in place the protections that I, and other transgender students, need to feel safe and welcome in school,” said the student in a press release circulated by the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “Knowing that I have the school district’s support, I can focus on learning and being a typical high school student, like my friends.”
An eight-page agreement letter from the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights summarizes many additional details of the original complaint. The student has “identified as a boy from a very young age” and “began consistently to assert” the hairstyle, clothing choices and manners typically favored by males in elementary school. The student adopted a masculine first name, started identifying with masculine pronouns and used a gender-neutral bathroom.
It was apparently in the sixth and seventh grades when the student wanted to use the boys’ bathrooms and locker rooms, and was denied. The cabin incident occurred in seventh grade.
The student is headed to ninth grade in the fall. Federal bureaucrats will be keeping a watchful eye on the district until at least 2016, notes Politico.
There has been a raft of recent stories with this same basic storyline across the country.
For example, in June, the Colorado Civil Rights Division decided that is is illegal discrimination to prohibit a transgender first-grader from using the girls’ bathroom at a public elementary school. The Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund filed a complaint that led to the ruling on behalf of the first-grader’s family. (RELATED: Transgender first-grader wins civil rights suit after girls’ bathroom ban)
The student, Coy Mathis, was born biologically male but wears girls’ clothes all the time and had also been using the girls’ bathroom at Eagleside Elementary in Fountain, Colorado near Colorado Springs.
“Compartmentalizing a child as a boy or a girl solely based on their visible anatomy,” the ruling asserted, “is a simplistic approach to a difficult and complex issue.”
Earlier this month, a transgender student in Florida complained to local media that a trade school wouldn’t allow him to use the women’s restroom. The student, Alex Wilson, was born male and is four years into a hormone therapy process designed to transform him into a female. He hasn’t undergone gender reassignment surgery. (RELATED: Florida transgender student barred from using women’s bathroom)
The school stepped in after an unidentified student protested Wilson’s use of the ladies room. Wilson was offered the use of a private bathroom. However, he deemed it unacceptable because, he explained, it is located in an inconvenient storage area.
Meanwhile, the state of Massachusetts is something of a transgender hotbed.
An 11-page set of guidelines recently distributed by The Bay State’s Department of Education mandates that transgender students are to be permitted to use the bathroom they feel most comfortable using. The rules apply to every public high school, middle school and elementary school in the state. (RELATED: New Massachusetts rules allow transgender students to choose their own bathroom)
Just in time for that ruling, a student at Middleborough High School has become the first transgender prom queen in the entire history of Middleborough, Mass. (pop. 23,000 or so), the cranberry capital of the world. (RELATED: Mass. high school crowns its very first transgender prom queen)
Strangely, though, a transgender high school student who applied to prestigious, private, all-female and typically very progressive Smith College was rejected because the school only accepts women. (RELATED: Transgender student denied admission to all-female Smith College)
Smith returned Calliope Wong’s application — and application fee — earlier this month.
“As you may remember from our previous correspondence, Smith is a women’s college, which means that undergraduate applicants to Smith must be female at the time of admission,” admissions dean Debra Shaver wrote in a letter to Wong.
Wong has identified as female for several years. However, on the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) Wong seems to have checked the gender box saying male.
Smith’s rejection places reliance on the laws of Connecticut, Wong’s home state. The state categorizes Wong as male and would only recognize Wong as a female after expensive, complex sex reassignment surgery.
“Yes, I was born into a body with typically male parts,” Wong blogged last fall. “But I identify and am living as female. Prevailing scientific and medical opinions support the fact that who I am identity-wise is different from the gender identity typically associated my physical body.”