OSPI NEWS RELEASE: Superintendent Reykdal Joins Oregon, California Education Officials to Oppose Federal Changes to the Concept of Gender

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Superintendent Reykdal Joins Oregon, California Education Officials to Oppose Federal Changes to the Concept of Gender

Recently, it was reported the federal government is considering changing the definition of 'gender.' Today, Superintendent Reykdal sent a joint letter with top education officials from California and Oregon opposing the proposed change.

Superintendent Chris Reykdal

OLYMPIADecember 12, 2018—Recently, the New York Times obtained a copy of a memo from the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). The memo outlined a proposal for government agencies to adopt a uniform definition of ‘gender’ as determined “on a biological basis that is clear, grounded in science, objective and administrable.”

Today, Superintendent Reykdal partnered with the top education officials in California and Oregon to send a letter opposing the federal government’s proposal to redefine the concept of ‘gender’ government-wide. The joint letter was sent to HHS Secretary Alex Azar in coordination with California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson and Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill.

Washington state law explicitly prohibits discrimination based on a student’s gender expression or identity in our public schools.

“I want to be clear: No matter what changes are made at the federal level, our public schools will continue to abide by state law,” said Superintendent Reykdal.

The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) issued formal guidelines in 2012 to assist school districts in implementation of the law prohibiting discrimination in public schools.

The guidelines make clear that students:

  • must be permitted to dress according to the gender in which they consistently identify,
  • must be addressed using the name and pronouns of their choice,
  • must be allowed to participate in physical education and athletic activities in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity,
  • must be allowed to use the restroom that is consistent with their gender identity,
  • must have access to an alternative restroom if they have a need or desire for increased privacy, regardless of the underlying reason,
  • must, in most cases, have access to the locker room that corresponds with their gender identity, and
  • must be protected from bullying and discriminatory harassment.

School districts are required to comply with the guidelines, and have been doing so successfully for six years now. This will not change.

“To our students who are transgender: We hear you. We see you. We support you. We will protect you,” said Superintendent Reykdal.

For More Information:

Anyone who believes a student is experiencing discrimination or discriminatory harassment based on gender expression or gender identity may file a formal complaint with their school district or public charter school.

For more information about legal protections for students who are transgender, please contact OSPI’s Office of Equity and Civil Rights at equity@k12.wa.us or 360-725-6162.