The state of Minnesota has issued a new toolkit to K-12th grade public and charter schools that features guidelines for supporting transgender kids.
“Schools should not assume a student’s name, gender identity or pronoun.”
Issued by the School Safety Technical Assistance Council, the new toolkit assists schools in establishing or amending policies to ensure that transgender and gender nonconforming students are safe and supported in schools throughout the state. The majority of the policies identify how staff can support transgender and gender nonconforming students, discuss the obligations of staff to prevent discrimination, bullying and harassment, and outline how school officials will coordinate and collaborate with each other and with parents.
The guidance also educates schools on the definitions of gender identity, gender expression, gender nonconforming, and sexual orientation. It provides guidance according to the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination and harassment in education based on gender expression, actual or perceived gender identity, and actual or perceived sexual orientation and The Safe and Supportive Minnesota Schools Act, which prohibits bullying and harassment of all students based on the same criteria.
The guidance advises, “Schools should not assume a student’s name, gender identity or pronoun.” It also advises school officials to ask the student and use their requested name and pronouns. Students are not required to provide schools with legal documents in order to correct their name or gender within their student records. Transgender and gender nonconforming kids will not be prohibited from participating in school activities or sports because of their gender identity. They will also be allowed to use the restroom and locker room facilities of their choice. Students will also be permitted to follow school dress codes within accordance of their gender identity.
The toolkit also offers suggestions for handling school events that traditionally incorporated binary gender roles such as having a prom “king” and “queen”. Though it explicitly does not prohibit schools from using these terms, it does offer options such as “prom ambassadors” and “homecoming royalty” as alternatives. It also provides options on addressing students as “scholars” or simply “students” as alternatives to using “boys” or “girls”. Erroneous reporting has implied that schools are being forced to use these terms, but they are offered as suggestions to help facilitate a more inclusive environment.