Justice Department: California school district pledges to protect transgender students


The U.S. Justice Department announced on July 24 that it had reached a settlement agreement with the Arcadia Unified School District in Arcadia, Calif., to resolve an investigation into allegations of discrimination against a transgender student based on the student’s sex.

Under the agreement, approved by the district’s school board on July 23, the district will take steps to ensure that the student, whose gender identity is male, will be treated like other male students while attending school in the district, according to a statement from the White House.

The agreement, joined by the U.S. Education Department Office for Civil Rights, resolves a complaint filed in October 2011. The complaint alleged that the district prohibited the student from accessing facilities consistent with his male gender identity, including restrooms and locker rooms at school, as well as sex-specific overnight accommodations during a school-sponsored trip.

The U.S. investigated the complaint under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and Title IV of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Both measures prohibit discrimination against students based on sex.

Under the settlement agreement, the district will: 

• Work with a consultant to create a safe, non-discriminatory learning environment for students who are transgender.

• Amend its policies and procedures to reflect that gender-based discrimination, including discrimination based on a student’s gender identity, transgender status and nonconformity with gender stereotypes, is a form of discrimination based on sex.

• Train administrators and faculty on preventing gender-based discrimination and creating a non-discriminatory school environment for transgender students. 

“All students, including transgender students, have the right to attend school free from discrimination based on their sex,” stated Jocelyn Samuels, acting assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department. “We commend the district for taking affirmative steps to ensure that this student and his peers can continue to learn and thrive in a safe and nondiscriminatory environment.”

In recent years, the Justice Department and the Department of Education resolved a number of cases involving gender-based harassment in public schools.

In 2012, the departments entered into a consent decree addressing harassment against students who do not conform to gender stereotypes in the Anoka-Hennepin School District, Minn.

In 2011, the departments entered into an agreement with the Tehachapi Unified School District, Calif., to resolve a similar complaint of harassment against a gay student who did not conform to gender stereotypes.