District 128 to add transgender support guidelines
Libertyville-Vernon Hills Area High School District 128 are set to proceed with guidelines to promote the integration of transgender and gender-expansive students.
State law already requires the district to protect students who consider themselves in those categories from bullying, discrimination and harassment, which are included as school policy. The guidelines are operating procedures to ensure consistency to protect the rights of all students, officials said.
In the works since last spring, the guidelines are a checklist of procedures to support and accommodate transgender students.
"The guidelines help us ensure expectations and uniformity within the district. That ensures all kids are provided access, they're treated fairly and they're safe," said Superintendent Prentiss Lea.
Lea and Al Fleming, associate superintendent, presented an overview Monday to the school board's program and personnel committee.
Fleming said the guidelines were compiled by a task force of about 20 teachers, social workers, counselors and others and culled from other districts. The measures will help staff members accommodate transgender and gender-expansive students -- an umbrella term that broadens commonly held definitions of gender -- in a consistent manner, he said.
They cover several areas involving support and accommodations for those students, such as how they are referred to, dress and share private information. For example, transgender and gender-expansive students have the right to be addressed by a name that corresponds to the identity they assert at school.
"All those examples are based on student preference," Fleming said. "Rather than thinking of gender as two choices, think of it as a range of choices," he added.
The guidelines also allow for a voluntary and reviewable gender support plan to address the intentions of the student in areas such as name, disclosure of identity to teachers and other staffers, and access to restrooms, locker rooms and other gender-segregated facilities as needed. For sports, District 128 will abide by the Illinois High School Association's rules.
The guidelines require the district to provide access to an alternative gender-neutral facility, but no student will be required to use one because they are transgender or gender-expansive. Each of the two high schools will have at least one gender-neutral restroom open to all students, the guidelines say.
Transgender issues have been discussed at other suburban districts, most notably Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211, which gained national attention in the debate over transgender students' access to locker rooms and bathrooms.
"This needs to be done. We're leading on this instead of walking behind," said board member Scott Luce.
Fleming said District 128 wasn't necessarily on the cutting edge of transgender policies and procedures but was ahead of the curve.