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Transgender and Gender Expansive Students Guidelines

Revised: February 1, 2023

Maine State law (5 MRSA section 4601) requires that schools support all students in their
preferred gender expression. While we will always seek to partner with parents and families in
the interest of students, we recognize that not all transgender and gender expansive students
experience the same level of safety in and out of school. As noted in the RSU 35 mission
statement, our schools will seek to create a safe, inclusive, differentiated learning environment
in which all students feel safe, heard and supported in the development of their whole selves-social,
emotional, physical and cognitive.

A. Purpose

The purposes of this policy are to: (1) foster a learning environment that is safe and free from
discrimination, harassment and bullying; and (2) assist in the educational and social integration
of transgender and gender expansive students in our schools. This policy is intended to be
interpreted in light of applicable federal and state laws/regulations, as well as other applicable
Board policies, procedures and school rules.

This policy is not intended to anticipate every possible situation that may occur, since the needs
of particular students and families differ depending on the student’s age and other factors. In
addition, the programs, facilities and resources of each school differ. Administrators and school
staff are expected to consider the needs of students on a case-by-case basis, and to utilize this
policy and other available resources as appropriate.

B. Definitions

The following definitions are not intended to provide rigid labels for students, but to assist in
discussing and addressing the needs of students. Except as specifically defined in Maine law,
the terminology in this area is constantly evolving, and preferences for particular terminology
vary widely. Administrators, school staff, volunteers, students and others who interact with
students are expected to be sensitive to the ways in which individual transgender and gender
expansive students may wish to be identified. However, for the sake of brevity, this policy
refers to “transgender students” and “gender expansive students.”

1. Sexual orientation – Sexual orientation is defined in the Maine Human Rights Act as
    an individual’s “actual or perceived heterosexuality, bisexuality, homosexuality or
    gender identity or expression.”

2. Gender identity – Gender identity is defined in the Maine Human Rights Act as “gender-related
    identity, appearance, mannerisms or other gender-related characteristics of an
    individual, regardless of the individual’s assigned sex at birth.”

3. Gender expression – The manner in which a person represents or expresses gender to
    others, often through behavior, clothing, hairstyles, activities, voice or mannerisms.

4. Gender expansive – An umbrella term used to describe a person who expands notions of
    gender expression and identity beyond perceived or expected societal gender norms.

5. Transgender – An adjective describing a person whose gender identity or expression is
    different from that traditionally associated with an assigned sex at birth.

6. Transition – The process by which a person goes from living and identifying as one
    gender to living and identifying as another gender. For most elementary and secondary
    students, this involves no or minimal medical interventions. Transgender students
    under the age of 18 are often in a process of social transition from one gender to another.

C. Addressing the Needs of Transgender and Gender Expansive Students

For the purposes of this policy, a student will be considered transgender or gender expansive if,
at school, they assert a gender identity or expression different from the gender assigned at
birth. This involves more than a casual declaration of gender identity or expression, but it does
not require a medical diagnosis.

If a student and/or their parent(s)/guardian(s) want the school to recognize the student’s
identity as transgender or gender expansive, the following procedure will be used.

1. A transgender or gender expansive student and/or their parent(s)/guardian(s) should
    contact the building administrator or the student’s guidance counselor. In the case of a
    student who has not yet enrolled in school, the appropriate building administrator
    should be contacted.

2. If requested by the student, or if deemed necessary by the administration to address
    school-related issues, a meeting will be scheduled to discuss the student’s particular
    circumstances and needs. In addition to the student, and depending on the particular
    needs of the student, other participants in the meeting may include the
    parent(s)/guardian(s), a building administrator, a guidance counselor or social worker,
    the school nurse, and/or other school staff. Outside providers and/or a support person
    for the student may also be included if appropriate.

    In the case of a student who has not yet informed their parent(s)/guardian(s), the
    administrator should first discuss parent/guardian involvement with the student to
    avoid inadvertently putting the student at risk by contacting their parent(s)/guardian(s).
    The student will be notified by the administrator prior to contacting their parent(s)/guardian(s).

3. If requested by the student, or deemed necessary by the administration to address
    school-related issues, a plan will be developed by the school in consultation with the
    student and other meeting participants. If the student has an IEP and/or a 504 Plan, the
    provisions of these plans should be taken into consideration in developing a plan for
    addressing transgender and gender expansive issues within the school program.

4. The school administration may request documentation from outside providers if
    deemed necessary to assist in developing a plan appropriate for the student.

5. Any plan developed must be reviewed and approved by the building administrator. If
    the parties involved in developing the plan cannot reach an agreement about the
    elements of the student’s plan, the Superintendent shall be consulted as appropriate.

D. Guidance on Specific Issues

    1. Privacy: All students have a right to privacy. This includes the right to keep private one’s
       transgender status or gender non-conforming presentation at school. In some cases, a
       student may want school staff and students to know that they are transgender or
       gender expansive, and in other cases the student may not want this information to be
       widely known. Accordingly:

        a. The student’s plan shall be kept confidential and shared only with individuals
            attending the plan development meeting, the Superintendent, others with a
            bona fide need to know, and, if necessary, the District’s legal counsel.

        b. As part of the development of the student’s plan, the discussion should include
            what information may be shared, to whom the information may be shared, and
            how the information should be shared.

        c. School staff should take care to follow the student’s plan and not to
            inadvertently disclose information that is intended to be kept private or that is
            protected from disclosure (such as confidential medical information, the
            student’s transgender status, their legal name, or sex assigned at birth).

         d. School staff should keep in mind that under FERPA, student records may only be
             accessed and disclosed to parents/guardians and to staff with a legitimate
             educational interest in the information. Disclosures to others should only be
             made with appropriate authorization from the administration and/or parents/guardians.

2. School Records: Schools are required to maintain a large number of records for
    students. If a student makes a legal change in their name and/or gender, appropriate
    documentation should be provided to the building administrator and records will be changed.

     A student who has not legally changed their name and/or gender may still request that
     the school unit utilize their preferred name and/or gender on school records, and this
     request will be honored to the extent that the school unit is not legally required to use a
     student’s legal name or gender on particular records. This information should be
     included in any plan developed for the student.

     If a student requests a change to their name and/or gender in school records without
     parental approval, the Superintendent should be consulted and the matter resolved on
     a case by case basis. Students should be informed that parents/guardians have a right
     to access all education records of their child and therefore the school cannot keep the
     change in name and/or gender a secret. This information should be discussed in the
     development of the student’s plan.

     In the event of a student transfer to a new school unit, the building administrator will
     identify a person who will inform the new school unit or out-of-district school program
     that the student’s records indicate a change in name preference, and what the student’s
     prior and current name preferences are.

3. Names/Pronouns: The student should be addressed by school staff, substitutes,
    volunteers and other students by the name and pronoun corresponding to their gender
     identity that is asserted at school.

4. Restrooms: The student is permitted to use the restrooms that most closely match their
    gender identity. If the student expresses a need for privacy, they will be provided with
    access to reasonable alternative facilities or accommodations such as a single-occupancy
    toilet facility or a staff facility. However, the student shall not be required to
    use a separate non-communal facility over their objection.

5. Locker Rooms: The student is permitted to use the locker room that most closely
    matches their gender identity. If the student expresses a need for privacy, they will be
    provided with access to reasonable alternative facilities or accommodations, such as
    using a separate stall, a staff facility, or an alternative schedule.

6. Other Gender-Segregated Facilities or Activities: As a general rule, in any other
    facilities or activities when students may be separated by gender, the student may
    participate in accordance with their gender identity. Participation in interscholastic
    athletic activities will be addressed in accordance with current Maine Principals
    Association guidelines and procedures.

7. Dress Code: The student is expected to comply with Board policies and school rules
   regardless of gender identity.

E. Safety and Support for Transgender and Gender Expansive Students

1. As part of the support plan development, the concerned parties should discuss safe
    zones (ex. main office, counselor’s office) the student may access at any time the
    student feels unsafe or uncomfortable. A support person (and possibly a back-up
    person) should also be identified for each student.

2. School staff are expected to comply with any plan developed for a transgender or
     gender expansive student.

3. School staff are expected to promptly notify the building administrator or other
    designated support person for the student if there are concerns about the plan, or
    about the student’s safety or welfare.

4. School staff should be sensitive to the fact that transgender and gender expansive
    students can be at higher risk for being bullied or harassed, and should immediately
    notify the appropriate administrator if they become aware of a problem.

F. Staff Training and Informational Materials

    1. The Superintendent and/or building administrators may institute in-service training
        and/or distribute educational materials about transgender and gender expansive issues
        to school staff as they deem appropriate.

5 M.R.S. §§ 4553(5-C), (9-C); 4592(9)

Cross Reference:

ACAA/ACAA-R Harassment and Sexual Harassment of Students
ACAB Harassment and Sexual Harassment of School Employees

Adopted: April 24, 2019

Revised: November 20, 2019 and February 1, 2023