School can bring up important questions for you as a transgender youth. We hope to answer a few of your questions about bathrooms and your legal rights at school. Remember that if you have a question that isn’t answered here, you can email or call any of us at TYEF and we will be happy to help you. School should be a safe and welcoming place for everyone, including transgender youth, and we are here to help make that a reality.
Q: What are my rights at school?
1. You have a right to not be targeted for bullying or harassment because you are transgender or gender non-conforming. If school administrators become aware of bullying or harassment they have an obligation to take action to stop it.
2. You have the right to equal educational opportunities regardless of your gender identity or expression. This includes not being disciplined or excluded from school, athletic or extracurricular activities, or other school events because you are transgender or gender non-conforming. You also have the right to be free from discrimination based on your race, color, national origin, or disability.
3. You have the right to wear clothing and otherwise present yourself in a way that is consistent with your gender identity, so long as you follow rules for appropriate dress that apply to all students. Disciplining you for doing so may constitute discrimination or violate your right to free expression.
4. You have the right to privacy concerning your transgender status and gender transition. Any such information that is recorded in school records must be treated as confidential and not disclosed to others without your consent. You have the right to form and participate in student groups, such as a Gay-Straight Alliance or Pride Alliance, and to have your group treated like other student groups.
(courtesy the National Center for Transgender Equality)
Q: What is title IX of the civil rights act, and how does it protect students?
Title IX is a federal law that applies to all schools that receive federal funding: that's all public schools and some private schools. Title IX prohibits discrimination, harassment, and bullying based on sex, which includes gender stereotyping.
* For more information refer to the National Center For Transgender Equality school rights page *
Q: Which bathroom do I use?
If you attend a public school in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Washington D.C, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont, or Washington State, you have the right to use whichever bathroom makes you most comfortable. In other states, you are still protected against gender discrimination by Title IX, which means you can file a complaint with the United States department of Education if your public school harasses you about which bathroom you use (courtesy of the National Center for Transgender Equality). If using gendered restrooms makes you uncomfortable, most schools have a gender neutral or single stall bathroom in the nurse's office that you can use. You should not be required to use this bathroom, though, if you prefer gendered restrooms. Remember: it is not your responsibility to make everyone else at your school feel comfortable; it is their job to welcome you.
Q: WHAT DO I DO IF MY RIGHTS AT SCHOOL ARE VIOLATED?
If any of your rights listed above are violated at school, the first thing you should do is bring it to the attention of an administrator at your school, such as your vice-principal or principal. Remind them that you have the right to be free from harassment and bullying based on your gender identity or expression at school, and they are legally obligated to defend that right. Important: Keep a log of each time you report an incident of harassment or bullying to an school administrator - date, time, what the incident was, and what the administrator offered to do. Inform your school administrators that you are keeping this log and that they are required to as well. If they do not respond adequately, you can file a formal complain with the U.S. Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights here.
We also recommend contacting an LGBT legal organization such as the following
- The ACLU LGBT project at (212) 549-2673 aclu.org/safeschools
- National Center for Transgender Equality, transequality.org
- GLAD at 800-455-GLAD, glad.org
- TYEF, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Lambda Legal at (866) 542-8336, lambdalegal.org, contact Lambda Legal's Help Desk by filling out this online form , or call this toll free number to be connected with your regional office (866)542-8336