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Additional Information: Clarification to Administrative Regulation 511R

October 15, 2015

There has been a great deal of concern and confusion in regards to the Bellevue Public Schools administrative regulation about transgender students. Given the relatively small number of students and the social issues involved, this is not surprising. There have been many questions about why and how a school district would implement such a regulation. Given federal mandates requiring schools to have procedures in place (http://www.ed.gov/ocr/docs/qa-201404-title-ix.pdf), the purpose of the regulation is to guide staff as they work with students identifying as transgender. Our goal is to support the student while keeping in mind the whole student body. This is why a regulation is needed.

 

The regulation sets up a process by which the school can provide appropriate support and accommodation. It has been stated that all a boy has to do is dress up as a girl and he can use the girls’ restroom. This is not true; in fact this regulation means that no accommodation for the use of a different restroom can be given without a plan in place. BPS has no students with an accommodation allowing for the use of a restroom or locker room that is inconsistent with the student’s biological sex. Current accommodations have been made allowing transgender students to use individual restrooms and dressing facilities that provide privacy for students. We will continue to look at our facilities to provide suitable accommodations that consider the needs of all students.

 

Because each situation involving a transgender student is unique, it is important that the district have written guidelines. Across the country, federal rulings (http://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/us-department-educations-office-civil-rights-announces-resolution-civil-rights-investigation-californias-downey-unified-school-district) and various court decisions have impacted how schools work with transgender students. By having a written regulation, BPS can treat all students fairly and provide only the accommodations that are legally necessary. Our goal is to continue to work collaboratively families of transgender students to balance the needs of the individual student with the needs of the entire student body.

 

There has also been some concern about the way in which the regulation was presented. District and building administrators, with advice from legal counsel, worked together to put in writing the processes that BPS has been using for the last several years. It was decided that in order for these procedures to be used consistently across the district, it was best to have them published as an administrative regulation. This is accomplished by presenting the regulation at a public board meeting. Administrative Regulation 511R was presented at the October 5, 2015 board meeting. The Board of Education does not vote to approve a regulation, however, they have the opportunity for input and could direct the administration to make changes.

 

In summary, the regulation on transgender students sets up a process whereby the school can be supportive of all students and make reasoned decisions about required accommodations. Given the unsettled nature of this issue in the courts, this is the responsible thing for the district to do.

 

If you have additional questions, please contact the Coordinator of Student Services at (402)293-4000.

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