Oregon Dept of Ed Issues Guidelines to Protect Transgender Rights

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

(Photo: Wikimedia, Creative Commons)

In its new, unprecedented guidelines, Oregon has taken a stance on what have come to be known as the “bathroom laws.” The Oregon Department of Education has released a 15-page document with suggestions for educators in the state on how to handle transgender students’ use of bathrooms.

Transgender students in Oregon should be allowed to use the restrooms, pronouns, and names they want to have used, suggest the guidelines. Transgender females are to be allowed to play in girls’ athletic activities, and transgender boys may wear tuxedos to their proms, says The Oregonian’s Casey Parks.

Even if the transgender students preferred names are not the same as the names on their diplomas and transcripts, school leaders are to use the names chosen by the students. The state will not require proof before changing the student’s gender on the Oregon records.

“A student who says she is a girl and wishes to be regarded that way throughout the school day should be respected and treated like any other girl,” the document reads. “So too with a student who says he is a boy.”

Oregon is one of a small number of states that have issued recommendations on transgender students’ rights. The discussion of gender identity and discrimination has been met with much tumult.

On Wednesday, North Carolina was warned by the federal Justice Department that it could not keep transgender people from using the bathrooms that correlate to their gender identities.

The document released by Oregon’s education department was titled “Creating a Safe and Supportive School Environment for Transgender Students.” The rules support the claim that schools must not interfere with even young children’s choice of gender identity.

Dr. Susan Berry, in an opinion piece for Breitbart, writes that a school’s decision not to restrict a child’s choice of gender identity is a “far-left claim.”

She adds that in Dallas, Oregon, a furor occurred when a high school administrator allowed a biological girl who identified as male to enter a boys’ locker room. The Oregonian reports:

“Parents and other students were outraged. They demanded the student be barred from the boys locker room. The district’s lawyer warned the board that they would be sued — and likely lose the suit — if they caved to community pressure. Residents contacted other lawyers who said the district’s counsel was wrong.”

Berry points out that the new rules claim that there is a spectrum of categories between female and male. The document included definitions including “assigned sex, intersex, cisgender, genderqueer, binary, and gender sensitive.”

If a student wants to keep his or her gender identity private, the new regulations expect school officials to attempt to hide the student’s legal name, writes The Daily Caller’s Blake Neff. If a student does want his or her gender status to be public, educators are to facilitate the informing and educating of his or her fellow students.

The rules for inter-school sports in the state are overseen by the Oregon School Activities Association. For males to play on girls’ sports teams competitively, they must have completed at least one year of hormone treatment.

No penalties for schools that do not abide by the guidelines were mentioned in the plan, but the Obama administration has put legal pressure on the topic, including the threat to eliminate federal funding to those states that do not allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity.

Oregon group Parent’s Rights in Education say the new regulations went too far.

“Federal law is clear,” the group said in a statement, “There are no legal grounds to require school districts to open up their bathrooms and changing rooms to members of the opposite biological sex.”

But one parent, Marsha Warren, who has a 13-year-old son who identifies as gender fluid and uses the neutral pronoun “they,” said the Oregon recommendations will assist in educating teachers and parents on how to support and respect transgender young people, writes Sam Levin for The Guardian.

Warren explained that the policies will help students like her child have the freedom to choose the restrooms where they feel most safe.