Support for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Students
Oak Park and River Forest High School is committed to ensuring a safe, affirming, and healthy school environment where every child can learn. Board Policy 7:10 Equal Educational Opportunities protects students from discrimination for any reason, including gender identity.
The Administrative Procedures detailed in the tabs below describe the protocols specific to addressing the needs of transgender students, gender nonconforming students, and students questioning their gender. These procedures are rooted in the district’s values, including allocating resources in equitable ways, and providing academic and social supports for all students.
These procedures apply to all school activities, school-provided transportation, and school-sponsored events regardless of where they occur.
- Gender Support Teams & Gender Support Planning
- Names & Pronouns
- Restroom & Locker Room Usage
- Physical Education, IHSA Sports, Intramural Sports, Clubs, & School Events
- Overnight School Trips
- Dress Code
- Discrimination & Harassment
- Curriculum & Pedagogy
- Online Accessibility/Publication
Gender Support Teams & Gender Support Planning
Pupil Support Services (PSS) Teams shall coordinate supports for transgender students, gender nonconforming students, and students questioning their gender. PSS Teams are authorized to convene Gender Support Teams, and develop or revise Gender Support Plans. [Click here to see an example of a support plan form.] Gender Support Teams and Gender Support Plans will only be convened and drafted by request of a student and/or a student’s parent(s)/guardian(s). Neither a Gender Support Team nor a Gender Support Plan is required in order for a student to receive supports at school. Students who do not desire a Gender Support Team or Gender Support Plan, but would like to receive supports from school, will still meet with their PSS Team so that supports can be coordinated.
Any student, regardless of how they identify, may request to meet with their PSS Team in order to receive supports from school, convene a Gender Support Team, and/or develop or revise a Gender Support Plan.
When a student and/or a student’s parent(s)/guardian(s) contacts a school staff about supports at school, the school staff shall notify the student’s PSS Team. The student’s PSS Team counselor and social worker(s) will hold a meeting with the student within ten (10) school days of being notified about a request for supports. The PSS Team counselor and social worker(s) will ascertain the student’s wishes and concerns and discuss the formation of a Gender Support Team with the student, which may include additional support staff, teacher(s), supportive peer(s), outside counselor(s)/therapist(s), etc. It will be the student’s decision who is a part of their Gender Support Team, including whether their parent(s)/guardian(s) are a part of their Gender
Support Team. However, all students under 18 years old should be aware that their parent(s)/guardian(s) and some third parties have the right to review their student records per Board Policy 7:340, Student Records, as well as state and federal law concerning school student records. In the event that disclosure to the student’s, parent(s), guardian(s) is deemed necessary by the school principal and/or district superintendent, the Gender Support Plan will indicate a clear outline for such disclosure that prioritizes the emotional health and educational success of the student. If a student does not desire a Gender Support Team and/or a Gender Support Plan, the PSS Team counselor and social worker(s) will work with the student to coordinate supports.
At all times, the PSS Team counselor, social worker(s), and Gender Support Team shall respect the self-determination of the student. A Gender Support Plan shall address the expressed wishes of the student regarding accommodations for affirming the name and pronouns that correspond with the student’s gender identity, disclosure of the student’s gender identity to teachers and other relevant school staff, use of restrooms and locker rooms, overnight school trip accommodations, confidentiality of gender transition in student records and information systems, and other supports as necessary. Gender Support Plans shall be accessible to the PSS Team and to other school staff as designated in the respective plans, or as otherwise required by law. In addition, the PSS Team counselor, social worker(s), and Gender Support Team shall ensure that all school staff requested by the student and/or their parent(s)/guardian(s) are informed of the details of the plan, provided that such disclosure is authorized within the plan. Gender Support Plans will be included in students’ temporary records and should not be included in students’ permanent records.
All Gender Support Plans will be reviewed annually by members of the Gender Support Team chosen by the student, and may also be reviewed and updated as necessary. Upon transfer to another high school or graduation, Gender Support Plans shall be provided to the respective students so they may request gender-inclusive accommodations at their future educational institutions if they so choose. Gender Support Plans will document the process for communication with the new schools about gender-inclusive practices.
PSS Teams shall be annually trained in the social, emotional, and academic support of transgender and gender nonconforming students. The content of this training shall be in-depth and in-person, and be medically accurate, evidence-based, and reflect current best practices.
All students have a right to privacy. To ensure the safety and well-being of transgender students and gender nonconfirming students, school personnel shall not disclose a student’s transgender identity. When contacting the parent or guardian of a student who is transgender, school personnel should use the student’s name and pronoun assigned at birth unless otherwise specified in the Gender Support Plan. However, all students under 18 years old should be aware that their parent(s)/guardian(s) and some third parties have the right to review their student records per Board Policy 7:340, Student Records, as well as state and federal law concerning school student records. . Nor should school staff disclose a student’s transgender identity, birth name, or sex assigned at birth to anyone, including other students or parent(s)/guardian(s) of other students, unless legally required to do so or if such a disclosure has been authorized by the student. If such a disclosure is necessary, it shall be documented in writing, via the Gender Support Plan or otherwise, and discussed with the student in advance. School staff should only discuss a student’s transgender identity with one another if it is necessary to support the student’s social, emotional, and academic success. The student’s transgender identify can be disclosed to any district employee of official with current demonstrable educational or administrative interest in the student.
The fact that a student chooses to disclose their transgender identity to school staff and/or other students does not authorize the school staff to disclose the student’s transgender identity or any medical information about the student to others.
Names & Pronouns
All students have the right to be addressed by a name and pronouns that correspond to their gender identity. It is recommended that, at the beginning of each semester, teachers ask all students via a written or electronic survey how they want to be addressed in class, in correspondence to their home, and at conferences with the student’s parent(s)/guardian(s).
At the request of a student’s parent(s)/guardian(s), or a student who is 18 years or older, the district shall provide a method for a requested name and/or gender marker to be included in the district’s electronic database to inform school staff (including substitute teachers) of the name and pronouns to use when addressing the student.
At the request of a student, regardless of age, or a student’s parent(s)/guardian(s), the district shall also provide a method for a student to change their name in documents such as student identification cards, yearbooks, and awards. These requests shall be made in writing or included in a student’s Gender Support Plan, if the student has requested one.
Students are not required to obtain a court-ordered name change and/or submit medical or psychological documentation as a prerequisite to being addressed by the name and pronouns that correspond to their gender identity or to having the name and/or gender marker that correspond to their gender identity included in the district’s electronic database. In situations where school staff are required by law to use or to report a student’s legal name and/or gender, such as for purposes of standardized testing, school staff shall adopt practices to avoid inadvertent disclosure of such confidential information.
An intentional and/or persistent refusal by school staff or students to respect a student’s gender identity is a violation of Board Policies 7:10 and 7:20.
Restroom & Locker Room Usage
Students shall be allowed use of restrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity.
Supports and accommodations should also be provided to non-binary students, as well as students questioning their gender. These accommodations will be determined on a case-by-case basis and may be documented in the student’s Gender Support Plan. Students must consent to whatever accommodation is provided to them. Use of restrooms and locker rooms may include, for example, use of a privacy partition or curtain, provision to use a nearby all-gender or secure-access restroom, a nurse’s restroom, and/or an all-gender locker room.
Regardless of gender identity, any student who has a need or desire for increased privacy should be provided with reasonable alternative arrangements when requested by a student and/or a student’s parent(s)/guardian(s). This may include use of a privacy partition or curtain, provision to use a nearby all-gender or secure-access restroom, and/or a nurse’s restroom.
No student shall be required to use a privacy partition or curtain, an all-gender or secure-access restroom, a nurse’s restroom, and/or an all-gender locker room because they are transgender, gender non-conforming, or questioning their gender.
Physical Education, IHSA Sports, Intramural Sports, Clubs, & School Events
All students shall be permitted to participate in physical education classes, intramural sports, clubs, and school events that correspond with their gender identity and/or in ways that make them feel safest and most included.
Currently, the freshman and sophomore physical education classes are gender-specific. Students may enroll in (1) the freshman and sophomore physical education classes that correspond with their gender identity, (2) the freshman and sophomore physical education classes that correspond with their sex assigned at birth, or (3) a physical education class that is not gender-specific.
The student’s PSS Team counselor, social worker(s), and Gender Support Team shall work with the student to determine the student’s placement. In this process, they can engage the physical education staff when needed, once they have received authorization from the student.
As a member of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA), the district will follow the IHSA Policy and School Recommendations for Transgender Participation for all IHSA sports.
Overnight School Trips
In no case should a student be denied the right to participate in an overnight field trip because the student is transgender, gender nonconforming, or questioning their gender. District personnel will work with any student with a concern regarding inclusion or safety to develop a plan for participation that addresses the student’s concerns.
Supports and accommodations should also be provided to non-binary students, as well as students questioning their gender. These accommodations will be determined on a case-by-case basis in partnership with the student and may be documented in the student’s Gender Support Plan.
The student’s PSS Team counselor, social worker(s), and Gender Support Team shall work with the student to determine the accommodations that will be provided based on the particular circumstances of the trip. In this process, they can engage the school staff supervising the trip when needed, once they have received authorization from the student. The accommodations that will be provided will be made clear to the student prior to their departure for the trip. Such accommodations shall be provided in a manner that respects the student’s desired level of confidentiality.
A student whose gender expression is different from expectations based on the student’s sex assigned at birth shall not be considered disruptive of the educational process or in interference with the maintenance of a positive teaching/learning climate. All students shall be permitted to wear gender-affirming clothing to school, including at school events such as dances and graduation.
The district may not adopt dress codes that restrict students’ clothing or appearance on the basis of gender, including at school events such as dances and graduation.
Discrimination & Harassment
No student shall be denied equal access to education on the basis of their gender identity. Allegations involving violations of this Administrative Procedure shall be reported in the manner consistent with all applicable Oak Park and River Forest High School District 200 Board Policies including, but not limited to, Board Policies 7:20 and 7:180.
Curriculum & Pedagogy
As a gender-inclusive district, the district is dedicated to representing and celebrating diverse genders and identities throughout the school culture and curriculum. All school staff shall use a gender-affirming approach. A gender-affirming approach is a framework used to create environments in which all students are able to identify and express their gender and achieve healthy development, as well as social, emotional, and academic success. This approach includes affirming students’ gender identities, being flexible during gender transition processes, and being conscious of gendered-language used throughout the day, if any.
School staff shall create inclusive lessons so that all students see themselves reflected in the curriculum. Where appropriate, school staff are encouraged to develop age-appropriate lessons for students about gender diversity and acceptance whether or not they are aware of transgender or gender nonconforming students in their classes. However, it is essential that an individual student’s gender transition or personal gender history never be the subject of a class lesson unless specifically directed in writing, such as in the student’s Gender Support Plan.
Specifically, health and sex education shall be inclusive of diverse gender identities, gender expressions, and sexual orientations, and these identities will be reflected throughout the curriculum.
School libraries shall also include accurate information on gender diversity, as well as gender-affirming children’s books, young adult fiction, fiction, non-fiction, multimedia, etc.
As a general matter, school staff shall evaluate all practices that divide students on the basis of gender and maintain only those that have a clear and sound pedagogical purpose, if any. Gendered practices can have the effect of marginalizing, stigmatizing, and excluding students, whether they are transgender, gender non-conforming, or not. Whenever students are separated by gender in school activities or are subject to otherwise lawful gender-specific practices, students shall be permitted to participate in such activities in accordance with their gender identity and/or in ways that make them feel safest and most included. A clear strategy to support the student will be developed in partnership with the student in advance of the activities and may be documented in the student’s Gender Support Plan.
At the beginning of the school year following the adoption of this Administrative Procedure, all school staff shall be comprehensively trained on this procedure and on gender-affirming approaches to education. School staff shall have subsequent in-depth, in-person annual training on supporting transgender and gender non-conforming students. The content of these trainings shall be medically accurate, evidence-based, and reflect current best practices.
Within ninety (90) days of their start date, all new employees who are hired by the district shall be trained on this procedure and on gender-affirming approaches to education. All substitute teachers and other temporary school staff shall also be trained on this procedure at the beginning of their first contract following the adoption of this procedure.
The district shall make this Administrative Procedure available on its website and accessible to the public, as well as include a reference to it in the student handbook. The district shall also ensure that its website includes information accessible to students and parent(s)/guardian(s) about making a request to meet with the student’s PSS Team counselor and social worker(s) regarding supports. The website may also provide information about gender transition and related resources. Administrative school staff who may receive emails, phone calls, or in-person questions about this Administrative Procedure should have the contact information of the PSS Teams and should refer all questions to the PSS Teams.
Beyond the Binary Student Support Group
Definitions of Gender-Related Terms
Adolescent Depression Awareness Program (from Johns Hopkins Medicine
Board Policy 7:10 Equal Educational Opportunities
Common Questions and Concerns (from Gender Spectrum)
Gender Spectrum (nonprofit with a wealth of resources)
GLSEN (nonprofit with a wealth of resources, including curriculum and lesson plans)
Resources from Welcoming Schools (a project of the Human Rights Campaign Foundation)
Supporting Gender Diversity Toolkit (from Chicago Public Schools)