New procedures support transgender & gender-nonconforming students

May 24, 2018

Dear OPRF Students, Staff, and Families,

I want to make you aware that at tonight’s Board of Education meeting, administration presented new district-wide procedures to ensure that, like all our students, transgender students, gender nonconforming students, and students questioning their gender have a safe, affirming, and healthy school environment.

We’ve long had policies protecting all students from bullying, harassment, and intimidation, and Board Policy 7:10 Equal Educational Opportunities specified that all students have a right to equal educational and extracurricular opportunities, regardless of gender identity. We have been supporting transgender and gender-nonconforming students’ needs on a case-by-case basis; last fall, an increasing number of students, families, and community members requested that we expand and formalize our supports. We had extensive public comment at two board meetings, and a community-wide petition was signed by 900+ community members.

In response, I formed a gender equity committee to revise the district policy on sex equity and to develop procedures that could be implemented uniformly. The committee included faculty, staff, parents, and representatives from the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, Lurie Children’s Hospital’s Gender and Sex Development Program, the School of Public Health at UIC. A student focus group also provided input.

Policy 7:10 has been revised to include some additional language, which the Board approved last evening. (Click here to see the revised policy.) In addition, we developed procedures aligned with current best practices. They address issues such as names and pronouns, restroom and locker room usage, overnight school trips, and more. We also have created a process for students and/or parents and guardians to request a Gender Support Team and/or Gender Support Plan. Neither a team nor a plan is required in order for a student to receive supports at school.

We have posted the complete procedures on our website; you can find them by clicking here. Many questions you may have are addressed by these procedures, so please do take some time to read through them. We’ve created additional pages with resources, a glossary of terms, and practical tips for creating a welcoming environment for all students.

I greatly appreciate the work of our gender equity committee and all its members have done to ensure that Oak Park and River Forest High School provides equity and excellence for all students.

Dr. Joylynn Pruitt-Adams