A Delaware regulation that would force transgender students to have their parents' permission before going by their chosen gender at school is gaining ground, reports Delaware.com. The mandate, Regulation 225, would have originally allowed students to choose for themselves how they identify.
The changes to the regulation have drawn ire from LGBT organizations, who note that it would likely force transgender students to be outed even if they are in unsupportive or unsafe homes.
“Students should not be forced to choose between abuse at home or basic dignity at school — such as being called by appropriate gender pronouns or being able to use facilities that match who they are — simply because of widespread ignorance about and bigotry against transgender people,” said Kathleen MacRae of the ACLU-DE in a statement.
A change that was originally designed to protect students may now put them at risk, Human Rights Campaign says.
“If adopted, Regulation 225 would license discrimination against transgender students, violate federal civil rights laws and undermine the health, safety and dignity of kids who deserve our support,” Sarah Warbelow, HRC’s Legal Director, said in a statement. “Requiring the forced outing of transgender students as a precondition to protect their rights is discriminatory and cruel.”
“The revisions to Regulation 225 are misguided, dangerous and run the risk of emboldening discrimination and violence against LGBTQ students,” Mark Purpura, Equality Delaware board member, said in another statement.
Purpura has asserted that Equality Delaware will do everything in its power to reverse the mandate, saying it violates Title IX, which prohibits discrimination in schools based on sex. Citing Title IX, President Obama's Education Department released guidance that encouraged schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity. The Trump administration has since renounced those guidelines.
Title IX's role in protecting transgender students was solidified by Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Delaware, in this year's Doe v. Boyertown case. The court ruled that transgender students could use their chosen bathroom in a Berks County School. Judges found the policy was in accordance with Title IX.
Purpura believes that the Boyertown decision allows the Delaware Department of Education to treat genderqueer people as a protected class.
LGBT advocates in Delaware believe the proposed changes to Regulation 225 will not just out students in order to have their identity affirmed in school and their rights enforced, but will limit their access to extracurricular activities. The Department of Education will be taking comments on Regulation 225 until July 6 — email DOEregulations.firstname.lastname@example.org to weigh in.
MacRae also called out to Governor John Carney to take action. "He must either stand up for these vulnerable students or abandon them," she said. "It is his choice."