Philly Schools Adopt Policy Protecting Transgender Students’ Rights

The new rules ensure that students will able to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.
Philadelphia school district Superintendent William Hite speaks during a news conference Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015, in Philadelphia. Mayor Michael Nutter discussed efforts by My Brother’s Keeper Philadelphia, part of a national initiative created by President Barack Obama to address inequality targeting men and boys of color. Nutter told reporters Wednesday he hopes to build on the momentum of the program and laid plans for it to continue beyond his administration, ending in January. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

Philadelphia School District Superintendent William Hite. | Photo by Matt Rourke/AP

The Philadelphia School Reform Commission adopted a policy Thursday night that immediately broadened the rights of transgender and gender-nonconforming students in the city’s schools. The new guidelines allow students to use their bathroom of choice, be referred to by their names and pronouns of choice, and participate in gender-segregated groups that correspond with their gender identity.

While there was no debate or public comments during the meeting, according the Inquirer, the rules were developed in collaboration with students, parents, administrators and the Attic Youth Center, an LGBTQ youth advocacy organization in Philadelphia.

“We have worked closely with students and members of the LGBTQ community to develop these guidelines,” said Philadelphia School District Superintendent William Hite in a statement. “Every student deserves to know their rights will be recognized and upheld at school. This policy provides clear guidance and will help to ensure that our schools remain welcoming to all students.”

In addition to the provisions above, the new guidelines also state that students may dress according to their gender identity, and that schools cannot institute dress codes that restrict clothing or appearance based on gender. It also states that transgender identity, legal name, and sex assigned at birth are now considered confidential information.

This new policy comes months after President Barack Obama issued a set of guidelines to school districts across the nation directing them to prevent harassment of transgender students, and allow pupils to use their preferred names and pronouns as well as the bathroom of their choice. It also comes after national debate surrounding North Carolina’s so-called “bathroom law,” which essentially forces people to use the bathroom that corresponds to the sex they were assigned at birth.

The entire set of guidelines can be read on the school district’s website.