June 27, 2016

School Law & Policy Updates

6-7-16 – Update on Gender Identity Questions

On May 13, 2016, the Office of Civil Rights has issued a Dear Colleague letter on Transgender Students.

Additionally, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the request of the Gloucester County School Board for an en banc rehearing of the three judge panel decision set discussed in the previous update (below). NSBA has written a summary of that opinion.

An LSA workgroup will be meeting on June 13th to discuss the formulation of policy recommendations for MABE/LSA member boards on this still developing area of school law.


Gender Identity Questions Partially Answered by MSDE Guidance and 4th Circuit Court

Schools in Maryland and across the nation are dealing with a range of issues pertaining to transgender and gender non-conforming youth. MABE’s Legal Services Association is in the process of forming a work group to draft a sample policy for the consideration of local boards. Earlier this month, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals (Maryland’s Federal Circuit) issued a 2-1 opinion permitting a Virginia transgender youth to continue a Title IX suit against the Gloucester County School Board for alleged discrimination on bathroom and locker room access on the basis of gender identity. The summary of the opinion from NSBA’s Legal Clips is provided.

Gloucester County Fourth Circuit Summary

In addition, MABE has learned about a new MSDE guidance document entitled “Providing Safe Spaces for Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Youth: Guidelines for Gender Identity Non-Discrimination” along with two companion guidance documents dealing with Student Transitions, Parents of Transgender Identifying Youth, and Community Members and Parents of Non-Transgender Youth and these are also provided.

MSDE: Providing Safe Spaces for Transgender & Gender Non-Conforming Youth – Guidelines for Gender Identity Non-Discrimination

Companion Guidelines #1

Companion Guidelines #2

Map to Topic on MSDE Website

MABE and LSA will provide further updates and policy guidance in the coming months. In the meantime questions may be addressed to Steve Bounds, MABE’s Director of Legal and Policy Services. sbounds@mabe.org

Legal & Policy Presentations on pertinent topics:

Custody Issues – Presentation made to Kent County Public School staff, Summer 2015 

Search & Seizure Issues – Presentation made to Worcester County Public School staff, Summer 2015 

Negligence Liability Avoidance – Presentation made to Kent County Public School staff, Summer 2015 

Transgender & Related Issues – Legal Services Association presentation, October 2015

Title IX Issues – Presentation made to Worcester County Public School staff, Summer 2015 

Social Media for School Employees – Presentation made to the Maryland Negotiation Service, Fall 2015

For more information about a presentation to your board or in your school system, please contact Stephen C. Bounds, Director of Legal & Policy Services, sbounds@mabe.org. 

Policy from various school systems on pertinent topics:

Baltimore County Public Schools Policy on Equity

Oregon School System Policy on Equity

For more information about school system policies, please contact Stephen C. Bounds, Director of Legal & Policy Services.