Transgender Students Head Back to School with New Protections
Gender Justice is launching a public education campaign to inform students, their families, and their schools about increased legal protections for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming students who are returning to Minnesota classrooms. The campaign, “New Year, New Law,” also seeks to provide transgender students and their families with concrete, easy-to-use resources to help them combat discrimination when and if it occurs.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 8, 2021
Erin Hart, Communications Director
Gender Justice has launched a public education campaign today to inform students, their families, and their schools about increased legal protections for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming students who are returning to Minnesota classrooms. The campaign, “New Year, New Law,” also seeks to provide transgender students and their families with concrete, easy-to-use resources to help them combat discrimination when and if it occurs.
Right now, Minnesota students are returning to school from summer break following months of distance and remote learning. Some will be physically attending classes for the first time since transitioning at home, and they will return to school with new names, new pronouns, and new gender identities. Not only will these students have changed while they’ve been away from the physical classroom; schools’ and school districts’ legal obligations to respect and support them have also changed — and protections for transgender students are stronger than ever.
Last March, Gender Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota, and Stinson LLP reached a settlement with the Anoka-Hennepin School District on behalf of Nick, a transgender student who was barred from using the boys’ locker room. The settlement followed a decision from the state Court of Appeals, which ruled that it violates both the Minnesota Constitution and the Minnesota Human Rights Act for a school or school district to segregate transgender students from their peers in locker room and bathroom facilities.
Thanks to this legal victory, Minnesota law now unequivocally entitles transgender students to:
- Use the same restrooms, locker rooms, and other facilities as other students;
- Use the restrooms, locker rooms, and facilities that align with their gender identity;
- Participate in school-related activities, including on athletic teams, in a way that is consistent with their gender identity;
- Be protected from bullying.
“The Minnesota Constitution, as well as the Minnesota Human Rights Act, protect transgender students at school. That’s now settled,” said Erin Maye Quade, Advocacy & Engagement Director at Gender Justice. “Unfortunately, a change in the law doesn’t automatically end discrimination against transgender students; but it does give students and their families a powerful tool to fight back. The goal of our campaign is to teach students and families how to use that tool.”
The New Year, New Law campaign will provide transgender students, their families, and Minnesota educators and school administrators with materials including information on recent legal victories, Know Your Rights handouts, and sample advocacy letters to help students and their families use the law to advocate for themselves if and when they do face discrimination.