The Minnesota Department of Education now has a solution for students that have issues sharing bathrooms and locker rooms with their fellow transgender students.
The Minnesota Department of Education released a toolkit that goes by “Safe and Supportive Schools for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students,” and talks about how schools can ensure a safe and supportive environment for transgender students.
It also warns educators that they may be in violation of state or federal law if they “use student’s incorrect pronoun or incorrect name.”
The toolkit’s goal is “to help school districts and charter schools create school environments where transgender and gender nonconforming students are safe, supported and fully included, and have equal access to the educational opportunities provided to all students as required by federal or state law.”
The toolkit is designed to make it easier for teachers to promotes a safe environment for transgender students, from kindergarten all the way to the twelfth grade.
“Schools should work with transgender and gender nonconforming students to ensure that they are able to access needed facilities in a manner that is safe, consistent with their gender identity and does not stigmatize them,” the toolkit notes
Moreover, it is argued in the kit that school should “consider revisiting existing traditions or establishing new traditions” and that they should consider making changes to dress codes to accommodate transgender students.
“In an effort for inclusivity, schools may wish to consider revisiting existing traditions or establishing new traditions,” the toolkit states. “For example, instead of electing a homecoming king and homecoming queen, some schools have chosen to nominate ‘prom ambassadors,’ ‘homecoming court’ or ‘homecoming royalty.’ At the University of Minnesota, for example, the titles of homecoming king and queen have been replaced with the title ‘Homecoming Royalty’ and students selected as royalty will now be called ‘royals.’”
While the toolkit is open to edits in the near future, It fails to discuss instances where a male student might identify as a female and wish to use the female bathroom or locker room. However, it does advise schools to “segregate” and isolate students that refuse to share bathrooms and locker rooms with transgenders.
“Privacy objections raised by a student in interacting with a transgender or gender nonconforming student may be addressed by segregating the student raising the objection provided that the action of the school officials does not result in stigmatizing the transgender and gender nonconforming student.”
The toolkit suggests that all schools should “have regular meetings with students, teachers and other staff to discuss how to make transgender students more comfortable. Schools are instructed to allow transgender students to choose the pronouns staff must use when addressing them, and does not require a medial ‘transition’ before students are to be treated as the gender of their choice.”
“Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) protects the privacy of students,” the toolkit states. “Schools should note that neither a student’s gender nor pronouns are considered public or directory information. Casual use of a student’s incorrect pronoun or incorrect name may violate FERPA.”
Tim Miller (R) expressed that he is upset with the department’s decision. “I really feel like common sense has sort of left the room and the department of education is really focusing on something that is not supported by the people of Minnesota,” Miller stated.