The Buffalo-Hanover-Montrose School Board approved a new policy last week that will require teachers to use the preferred pronouns of students who identify as “gender non-conforming, transgender, or non-binary.”
“Transgender students have the right to be addressed by a name and pronouns that align with their gender identity,” the policy states.
The policy adoption comes after the school district’s recent $218,500 settlement with a transgender student who was born a female but now identifies as a male. The student was unhappy with the district’s bathroom policy that didn’t allow the student to use male facilities.
The new policy, titled “Equal Educational Opportunity,” now allows all students in the district to “use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity” and “use locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.”
The policy also requires “every school district employee” to comply “with this policy conscientiously.” The school board said the district will work with “any students who identify as transgender, gender non-conforming, or non-binary and with any adults the student identifies, to determine how the district can best support that student.”
“This includes, but is not limited to, ensuring that school officials use the proper name and pronouns for the student,” the policy document states.
“All areas of education including academics, coursework, co-curricular and extracurricular activities” are subject to the new policy. This means that transgender and gender non-conforming youth are allowed to play on the sports “team they are most comfortable with,” according to the policy. As for high school students, “the district will abide by the rules for transgender participation adopted by the Minnesota State High School League.”
Earlier this year, the Anoka-Hennepin School District settled in a 2019 lawsuit for $300,000 with a transgender male student who was prevented from using the male locker room during the 2015-16 school year. The school board agreed to develop a policy that “allow[s] every student to use all facilities consistent with their gender identity” but has not made any changes to policy yet.
Megan Olson is a 2020 graduate of the University of Minnesota with degrees in political science and history. She works in public affairs in addition to serving on the Legislative Advisory Council for School District 196. She is also on the school board for FIT academy, a charter school in Apple Valley.