SAN DIEGO (CNS) - Officials of two of the largest school districts in San Diego County said guidance issued by the Obama administration Friday that spells out responsibilities to prevent discrimination against transgender students will have no impact locally because the issue is already dealt with by a state law.
A letter, issued jointly by the U.S. departments of Education and Justice, states that transgender students are protected under Title IX, which prohibits K-12 districts, colleges and universities that receive federal dollars from discriminating against students based on sex.
The guidance letter states that schools must treat students according to the gender they identify with, upon being notified of the student's transgender status. This includes allowing students to take part in sex- segregated activities or use bathrooms and other facilities that match the student's chosen gender identity.
Schools are also obligated to respond quickly and effectively when dealing with harassment against transgender students, and to protect the privacy of students on issues related to their transgender status.
Officials with the San Diego and Poway unified school districts said their districts abide by Assembly Bill 1266, which took effect two years ago. That law requires that students participate in sex- segregated student activities or use facilities according to their gender identity, not the sex listed on the pupil's records.
"Over the past two years, members of Learning Support Services have worked with principals, counselors and families to develop guidelines and practices that ensure every students' right to privacy, as well as every students' right to feel safe, valued and included on our campuses," said Christine Paik of Poway Unified. "That work continues, as we install privacy stalls in all middle and high school locker rooms as well as gender neutral restrooms on several of our campuses."
In February, parents at Rancho Bernardo High School -- part of Poway Unified -- complained after a student born female but who identifies as male began using the boys locker room. The school responded by installing private changing areas last month.
San Diego Unified has a 10-page document that spells out procedures for handling the needs of transgender students.