The School Committee will have a second reading of Policy JB - Transgender and Gender Expansive Students and JB-R - Transgender and Gender Expansive Students Procedure at its April 28, 2022 meeting. Drafts of the policies are listed below:

JB - TRANSGENDER AND GENDER EXPANSIVE STUDENTS

A. Purpose and Scope

The Yarmouth School Department will strive to 1) foster a learning environment that is safe, affirming, and free from discrimination, harassment and bullying for all students; and 2) assist in the educational and social integration and development of transgender and gender expansive students in our schools. This policy is intended to be interpreted in light of applicable federal and state laws and regulations, as well as School Committee policies, procedures and school rules.

This policy is not intended to anticipate every possible situation that may occur, since the needs of particular students differ. In addition, the programs, facilities and resources of each school also differ. Administrators and school staff are expected to utilize this policy within the context of the individual needs of the student.

This policy applies to all conduct and communications identified in Board Policy JICK – Bullying and Cyberbullying in Schools, Section IV.

B. Definitions

The following definitions are not intended to provide rigid labels for students, but to assist in discussing and addressing the needs of students. Administrators, school staff, volunteers, students and others who interact with students are expected to be sensitive to the ways in which particular transgender and gender expansive students may wish to be identified.

1.     Sexual orientation – is defined as a person’s romantic, emotional, mental and/or sexual attraction to another person based on the gender of the other person. Some examples of sexual orientation include: heterosexuality, homosexuality, or bisexuality.

2.     Gender identity – A person’s gender-related identity, appearance or behavior, whether or not different from that traditionally associated with the person’s physiology or assigned sex at birth. 

3.     Gender Expansive – An umbrella term used to describe people who expand notions of gender expression and identity beyond what is perceived as the expected gender norms for their society or context. Some gender-expansive people identify with being either male or female, some identify as neither, and others identify as a mix of both. Gender expansive people include those with transgender and non-binary identities as well as those whose gender in some way is seen to be stretching society’s notions of gender.

4.     Gender expression – The manner in which a person represents or expresses gender to others, through such means as behavior, clothing, hairstyles, activities, voice and/or mannerisms.

5.     Transgender – A person whose gender identity or expression is different from that traditionally associated with the assigned sex at birth. 

C.  Addressing the Needs of Transgender and Gender Expansive Students

The School Department is committed to addressing the needs of transgender and gender expansive students. As with all students, if a transgender or gender expansive student needs additional support, the student and/or parent/guardian may contact school personnel in order to make an individual plan for the student. An individual support plan aims to engage the student, and possibly the parent or guardian, in creating a supportive plan that reflects and responds to the individual needs of the student in the school community. The administration will develop procedures for staff to follow to provide support for transgender students. School staff shall comply with any plan developed for a transgender student and shall notify the building administrator or other designated support person for the student if there are concerns about the student’s safety or welfare.

1.     The Yarmouth School Department shall accept a student’s consistent assertion of their gender identity (including gender fluidity). 

2.     In the rare event that the school has a credible and objective reason to believe that student’s gender identity is being asserted for an improper purpose, the school may request additional evidence supporting the student’s stated gender identity, which evidence may include the following:

a.     A written statement from a physician, physician’s assistant, nurse practitioner, or nurse who has been involved with the student’s healthcare;

b.     A written statement from a psychologist, psychiatrist, or social worker who has met with the student;

c.     Passports or other formal documents showing the student’s legal gender;

d.     Familial documents, such as family photographs or statements from the student’s parent(s), guardian(s), or other adult relative(s) or caregiver(s);

e.     A statement from an adult who is close to the student and can speak to the student’s core gender identity.

3.     In the event that a student and their parent or legal guardian do not agree regarding the student’s gender identity or gender expression, the school shall abide by the wishes of the student with regard to their gender identity and gender expression while at school.

D. Policy on Specific Issues

1.   Privacy and Confidentiality: The district shall ensure that student records shall be kept confidential in accordance with applicable state, local and federal privacy laws. 

2.   School Records: Schools are required to maintain a permanent record for each student which includes legal name and sex. This information is also required for standardized tests and official school district reports.  A student’s official record shall bear their legal name, which may be changed only upon proof that it has been changed pursuant to a court order. At the request of a student, and consistent with the student’s gender identity, the district shall use the student’s preferred name and pronouns consistent with their gender identity on all other documents including but not limited to school identification, classroom rosters, certificates, diplomas and yearbook.

3.   Names/Pronouns: Students shall be addressed by school staff and other students by the name and pronoun corresponding to their gender identity as asserted at school.

4.   Restrooms, Locker Rooms and Other Gender-Segregated Facilities: Students shall be permitted to use restrooms, locker rooms and changing facilities corresponding to the gender identity which the student asserts at school. The district will provide reasonable alternative facilities such as a separate stall or a staff facility in accordance with a student preference for greater privacy. A student shall not be required to use a separate, non-communal facility over their objection.

5.   Gender-Segregated Facilities or Activities: As a general matter, schools should try to avoid gender-based activities, policies, and practices except where they serve an important educational purpose. In other facilities, activities, policies or practices when students may be separated by gender, students shall be able to participate in accordance with the gender identity asserted at school. Interscholastic athletic activities should be addressed through the Maine Principals’ Association Transgender Participation Policy, and district staff will support students navigating the eligibility process to try to ensure a respectful and supportive process for the students.

6.   Dress Code: If schools have a dress code, the dress code shall be gender neutral.  Students must dress consistently with any applicable requirements in the dress code or school rules.

7.   Discrimination, harassment and bullying are prohibited within the district. School staff should be sensitive to the fact that transgender students are at higher risk for discrimination, harassment and bullying, and should immediately notify the appropriate administrator if they become aware of a problem. The administration will address all such concerns in accordance with applicable policies and complaint procedures, including Policies AC, ACAA, ACAA-R and JICK.

E. Training and Dissemination of Informational Materials

1.   The Superintendent and/or building principal shall institute in-service training on this policy and distribute educational materials about transgender and gender expansive issues to all school staff on an annual basis, including training and support in implementing this policy and, if applicable, in implementing a plan for an individual student.

2.   This policy shall be shared annually with employees and volunteers, students, and shall be included in student handbooks as well as posted on the district website.

References:

5 MRSA § 4551 et seq ; Maine Human Rights Act; 20-A MRSA § 4601

AC – Nondiscrimination – Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action

ACAA – Harassment and Sexual Harassment of Students

ACAA-R – Student Discrimination and Harassment Complaint Procedure

JICK – Bullying and Cyberbullying in Schools

JRA – Student Records and Information

JRA-E – Annual Notice of Student Education Records and Information Rights

JRA-R – Student Education Records and Information

 

JB – R TRANSGENDER AND GENDER EXPANSIVE STUDENTS PROCEDURE

For the purposes of this policy, a student will be considered transgender if, at school, he/she/they consistently asserts a gender identity or expression different from the gender assigned at birth. 

The following procedure will be used to address needs raised by transgender students and/or their parent(s)/guardian(s):

1.     A transgender student and/or the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s) should contact the building administrator or the student’s guidance counselor.  In the case of a student who has not yet enrolled in school, the appropriate building administrator should be contacted.

2.     A meeting should be scheduled to discuss the student’s particular circumstances and needs.  In addition to the student, parent(s)/guardian(s) and building administrator, other participants may include the guidance counselor or social worker, school nurse, teachers and/or other school staff, and possibly outside providers who can assist in developing a plan for that student.  

3.     A plan will be developed by the school.  This plan may be developed in consultation with the student, parent(s)/guardian(s) and others as appropriate, to address the student’s particular needs.  In the event that a student and their parent or legal guardian do not agree with regard to the student’s gender identity or gender expression, the school may develop the plan in consultation with the student.  If the student has an IEP and/or a 504 Plan, the provisions of the IEP or 504 plan should be taken into consideration in developing the plan for addressing transgender issues.

4.     The school may request documentation from service providers as necessary to assist staff in developing a plan appropriate for the student.

5.     If the parties cannot reach an agreement about the elements to be included in the plan, the building administrator and/or Superintendent shall be consulted as appropriate.