Michigan’s board of education last week approved voluntary guidelines that urge schools to create an inclusive environment for LGBT students, including by letting transgender students use restrooms and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity.
The guidelines, which some Republican lawmakers criticized, were issued four months after the Democratic-controlled board concluded a contentious public-comment period. More than 160 people testified in the state capital last spring, while 75 more weighed in last week. The board, which earlier received some 13,000 comments, voted 6-2 along party lines.
According to the guidelines, schools should work to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students from harassment, violence, and discrimination. They should support the formation of gays-straight alliance clubs, incorporate LGBT topics throughout their “educational culture,” and offer professional-development opportunities to all employees on issues affecting LGBT students.
The recommendations cite the U.S. Department of Education’s interpretation that the 1972 sex-discrimination law known as Title IX makes it illegal to discriminate against transgender students. They also urge schools to consider on a case-by-case basis whether to inform parents that their child is transgender if that child hasn’t come out; make “reasonable and good faith” efforts to address transgender students by their chosen names and the corresponding pronoun when asked by the student or parents; and let transgender students take part in physical education classes and intramural sports in accordance with their gender identity.
A version of this article appeared in the September 21, 2016 edition of Education Week as Mich. Guidelines Urge Inclusive Treatment of LGBT Students