PA School Districts Respond to Landmark Federal Guidance Issued for Trans Students


The US Department of Education and US Department of Justice released landmark guidance last Friday clarifying that transgender students are protected under the federal non-discrimination law, Title IX. The guidance sent to every school district in the country does not have the force of law, but schools that receive federal funding are on notice that if they do not comply, they risk losing that support. Gender identity has been declared as a protected class from discrimination under Title IX given the interpretation of gender identity as part of sex stereotyping declared by US Department of Education in 2014. This interpretation was recently upheld by the Fourth Circuit, and was further clarified on Friday.

The guidelines explain that in order to be in compliance with Title IX to receive federal funding, schools must: provide a safe and non-discriminatory environment, respect a student’s affirmed name and pronouns, ensure access to sex-segregated spaces that align with a student’s gender identity, and guarantee privacy in education documents. 

Public schools in Pennsylvania receive over $1 billion in federal funding. 

Of the nearly 40 district Superintendents and spokespeople we found that commented in news media the past few days, not one said they would defy the guidance from the US Department of Education.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education has stated it will continue to refer districts to the federal guidelines. Neither Governor Wolf nor Pennsylvania Department of Education Secretary Pedro Rivera have issued a direct statement regarding of the new guidelines. 

Take a look below at the nearly two dozen news stories we found from throughout the commonwealth. These news stories are collectively groundbreaking – we cannot remember a time when so many school officials spoke so directly on trans issues at once. Below are also a few editorials both supporting and attacking the guidance which have been published in Pennsylvania.

Friday, May 13th

U.S. gives directive to schools on transgender bathroom access
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette/AP

White House Issues Guidance on Transgender Bathrooms
PA Homepage – Wilkes-Barre

U.S. gives directive to schools on transgender bathroom access; Valley educators seek more info
Sunbury Daily Item

‘We are going to comply’: Local schools react to Obama’s transgender directive
Johnstown Tribune-Democrat

Lancaster County schools want to be safe places for transgender students
Lancaster Online

Obama adminsitration announces transgender guidelines for students, already in place at Brashear High School
WTAE Pittsburgh

Transgender issues surface in Pittsburgh-area districts
Pittsburgh Tribune

Parents in Stroudsburg Weigh In on Transgender Announcement
WNEP from Stroudsburg

School Bathroom Issue Draws Mixed Reaction
WNEP from Wilkes-Barre

With Bethlehem Area already on board, Lehigh Valley school districts to gear up for Obama’s transgender directive
Allentown Morning Call

Local school districts respond to federal guidance for transgender students
Centre Daily Times from State College

Obama: Let transgender students choose
Fox Erie

Transgender Bathroom Pushback
NBC Philadelphia

US gives directive to schools on transgender bathroom access
NBC Pittsburgh

Saturday, May 14th

Obama administration gives schools guidance on transgender students’ rights
Philadelphia Inquirer

Berks County school officials weigh in on trangender bathroom directive
Reading Eagle

With federal directive, area schools to discuss transgender bathroom issue
Scranton Times-Tribune

Transgender bathroom directive ‘not a complete surprise’ for area superintendents
Wilkes-Barre Citzens’ Voice

Sunday, May 15th

How the transgender bathroom issue plays out in Pa., Erie
Erie Times-News

Op-Eds this Weekend from Pennsylvania

Obama made the wrong call with transgender bathroom rule: Ken Kilpatrick
Penn Live

LIVING YOUR TRUTH: ‘We see you’ – Attorney General Lynch historically stands for transgender rights
NEPA Scene

The Democrats’ LGBTQ war on women
Lebanon Daily News

Thomas: North Carolina fights back
Carlisle Sentinel

Photo: Pittsburgh high school students preparing to testify before the Pittsburgh School Board in favor of the proposed trans student policy on May 2, 2016 (Pennsylvania Youth Congress)

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