Massachusetts public schools may have to rearrange locker rooms, restrooms, and sports teams to comply with a new interpretation of laws prohibiting discrimination against transgender children.
According to the guidelines, schools must treat students as male or female on the basis of what the child says his or her sex is, regardless of their physical or biological makeup or prior beliefs about their sex.
The guidelines, effective immediately, follow a November 2011 state law prohibiting transgender discrimination in housing, employment, and other areas where other forms of discrimination is already prohibited.
“Every child has the right to a safe, supportive environment within their school,” said Lauren Green, program coordinator for Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Teachers, principals, and “people who had experience dealing with transgender children” helped write the guidelines, she said, which provide “overall guidance for what we do regularly.”
The state’s education department is “not really commenting on why this started or why it’s necessary,” Green said. “The guidelines are pretty clear.”