NEPC Review: Gender Identity Policies in Schools (Heritage Foundation, March 2017)
This recent Heritage Foundation report argues that Title IX does not require schools to protect students from discrimination on the basis of gender identity. It criticizes the Obama Administration for issuing guidance and enforcing Title IX to protect transgender students, and it urges the Trump Administration and courts to keep gender identity protections out of federal laws. Oddly, transgender youth are at the center of, and yet somehow go wholly unexamined in, this report on gender identity policy. The report never acknowledges or addresses (a) legal opinions that gender identity discrimination is a form of sex discrimination; (b) the near-consensus within the medical, scientific, and educational communities concerning how transgender students should be treated; and (c) other research or literature shedding light on the appropriate care for and education of transgender youth. Additionally, the report erroneously asserts that transgender-inclusive policies will embolden men to enter women’s facilities to assault or abuse them. What is entirely missing from this report — and what policymakers and educators urgently need — is guidance in an area that may be new or unfamiliar to them. Fortunately, many states and districts have adopted positive gender-identity-related laws, policies, and practices that answer questions and serve as useful guidance for other jurisdictions about how to successfully integrate transgender students in schools.