NPUSC Families and Staff,
This communication is an updated statement (11/11/22), after additional consideration, around NPUSC policy and practice for NPUSC Policy 2260 Non-Discrimination and Facility Access as it relates to gender identity.
Pertinent facts and final determinations are included in this communication, including the original announcement shared at the August 8th board meeting:
Why has NPUSC changed its practice related to restroom access?
NPUSC has had a policy in place for many years addressing “federally protected” classes to ensure equal access to programming and facilities. That policy was recently updated in 2021. Federal law defines protected classes such as race, national origin, color, and sex, also defined as gender status, gender identity, and sexual orientation.
*Board Policy 2260 Non-Discrimination and Access is attached here-
Policy2260-Non Discrimination Access to Facility:Programs.pdf
NPUSC previously allowed transgender students to use neutral locations such as a staff bathroom. However, after review of federal court cases throughout the United States including the Mid-West, it was clear federal courts and federal law were consistently protecting transgender students’ rights to access the restroom of their identifying gender if requested.
*A legal briefing of the pertinent federal law and court cases is attached here- Legal Briefing-Facility Access.pdf
In conclusion, since NPUSC policy already protected these students, NPUSC changed its interpretation of the policy to be compliant with federal law and related federal court case precedent, and to be more supportive of the transgender student population within NPUSC schools
What exactly is the NPUSC practice now and why?
Consistent with federal guidance and court case legal precedent, students with official transgender status are given the option to use a neutral restroom option such as nurses station or staff bathroom, or to use the restroom of the identifying gender. Legal precedent has clearly established transgender students must have this option. Multiple school systems in the United States, the Mid-West, and Indiana have lost lawsuits when challenging this precedent, which have included instances of settlements with taxpayer dollars being paid out for discrimination.
Also, recent studies show that transgender students are 4 times more likely to commit suicide than other teens (Johns, 2020). This research was of great concern to NPUSC leadership, which has also led to a change in practice to be more supportive of our transgender student population
What is a Gender Support Plan? Is it accurate that our schools are hiding transgender information from parents?
To ensure safety of all students and support for transgender students, NPUSC has created a Gender Support Plan, which is an internal document used with transgender students only *-An updated example is attached below. NPUSC Social Workers and Counselors utilize this document to ensure students of transgender status have access to the legal precedent with restroom access, and other necessary aspects are addressed in an individualized plan such as pronouns to be used in class.
Gender Support Plans enacted by NPUSC will be communicated to a student’s parents/guardians at the beginning of the process. Gender Support Plans will be considered a student educational record under FERPA. However, any evidence of an intense safety concern for the student in disclosure of this information may potentially delay and/or limit the disclosure.
Gender Support Plans will not be offered to all students, and are only enacted for students that come forward to request one.
NPUSC will align K-8 Athletics participation with IHSAA gender policies and guidelines. The IHSAA Gender Policy can be found here
Locker Room Access
Due to potential privacy concerns involving locker rooms, NPUSC will develop individual plans to meet the needs of students. Solutions may include usage of alternate locations such as a referee office area. These individual plans will be handled on a case by case basis upon request to the principal of the student’s school.
What is NPUSC doing to ensure safety for all students in this situation?
We do understand the concern. To address and alleviate the concern, NPUSC has put the following into place:
1. A formal process has been established to ensure only transgender students will have the option to access to the restroom of the identifying gender (Gender Support Plan)
2. NPUSC is installing privacy stalls around all restrooms/urinals in every bathroom in NPUSC K-12, we will be completing this work throughout this school year
3. Swift, consistent discipline for any students making fun of this situation or trying to create fake status to access a restroom inappropriately
NPUSC reserves the right to adjust these guidelines as needed. We ask for patience and sensitivity for all students involved as we move forward as a school community.
Dr. Paul White