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ISBE Guidance Addresses Legal Rights of Transgender, Nonbinary, and Gender Nonconforming Students

K-12 Education Publications

School districts across the country are facing uncertainty when it comes to the legal rights of transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming students. A lawsuit in Connecticut and a bill in Arizona, for instance, aim to call into question the rights of transgender students to participate in girls’ sports. In Illinois, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) recently issued non-regulatory guidance on how that agency currently interprets state and federal laws addressing gender identity in schools. ISBE has also issued a model administrative procedures document that provides supports for districts in establishing or amending procedures with respect to transgender, nonbinary and gender nonconforming students. ISBE published the guidance and procedures, along with other updates to its website, including new resources to assist school districts in supporting and responding to concerns raised by LGBTQ+ students.  

The ISBE guidance provides an outline of student protections, recommendations, and obligations for school districts including:

  • Best practices for preventing discrimination, harassment and bullying;
  • Information related to the gender support model;
  • An outline of requirements to maintain confidentiality in handling student records requirements;
  • Best practices for student use of facilities, as well as other information related to dress code policies and student inclusion in sports, clubs, events, and school trips.

The guidance also provides school districts with information related to gender and LGBTQ+ inclusive curriculum and other training and support for district staff.

The ISBE guidance incorporates many of the recommendations of a recent report by Governor JB Pritzker’s Affirming and Inclusive School Task Force, a group created last year to identify strategies and best practices for supporting LGBTQ+ students in Illinois schools. Franczek Partner Nicki Bazer has served as a member of the task force since her appointment in September 2019.

For more information about the guidance or other issues relating to support for transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming students, contact the authors of this post or any other Franczek attorney.