Loudoun County Public Schools are giving their policies on transgender students a second look after a memo issued today by the U.S. Department of Justice and Department of Education outlining the federal government’s stance on treatment of those students.
The memo requires that when a student’s parent or guardian notifies school administration that the student will assert a gender identity that differs from previous representations or records, the school system will begin treating the student according to that student’s gender identity. It also specifies that there is no medical diagnosis or treatment requirement—in other words, no doctor’s note is required.
“Loudoun County Public Schools consistent practice on this matter is to have the building administrator work out accommodations with students and their families that respect everyone in the school community,” stated LCPS Public Information Officer Wayde Byard. “We are assessing the federal government’s stance on this issue and will give it due consideration as we move forward.”
The school system’s $16.7 million in federal funding is at stake. Under Title IX, the school system’s federal funding is contingent with the federal nondiscrimination policy, which now includes these guidelines on treatment of transgender students.
“Theoretically, yes, there are things on the line, but all that is really early to be saying what ramifications are going to come out of this, so that’s yet to be seen,” Byard said. He also said it would be up to the school board to determine whether this memo will require the school system to create a system-wide policy for transgender students.
The memo includes definitions for terminology relating to transgender people, a sign of how new the idea is to many school systems. In the memo, “gender identity” is defined as a person’s internal sense of gender, which may be different from the person’s sex assigned at birth. “Sex assigned at birth” is the sex designation recorded on a birth certificate, and “transgender” means a person whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth.
In particular the memo specifies that transgender students will be allowed to use the restroom and locker room consistent with their gender identity.
The federal memo is accompanied by a document containing guidance and example policies from school systems that have adopted rules for how they treat transgender students.
The accompanying document from the U.S. Department of Education includes guidance on everything from confirming a student’s gender identity—they tell you—to how schools are addressing bullying and harassment of transgender students.