Know Your Rights: Transgender Student Rights at School
A guide from the ACLU Foundations of California.
Respect for your gender identity
You have the right to assert your gender identity at school, regardless of your gender presentation. You do not need any medical diagnosis or treatment to have your identity recognized by your school. However, we recommend talking to and working with your school if possible, especially if you transition while in school.
The right to be you
You have the right to be out about your gender identity at school.
Discrimination and harassment of transgender students
All students have the right to be treated equally and to be free from bullying, harassment, and discrimination, regardless of gender identity or gender expression.
Privacy and outing students
You have the right to keep your gender identity private, which means that school staff cannot out you without your permission to other students or other school staff. Schools should also not out you to your parents or guardians, but be aware that schools have done this in the past.
Your school must allow you to participate in PE classes and sports that are consistent with your gender identity.
Names and pronouns
You have the right to be addressed by the name and pronouns that correspond with your gender identity. This is true even if your name and gender are not legally changed. Your school should use your chosen name and pronouns on everything possible—your student ID, class attendance rosters, yearbook, and more. Your legal name should only appear on your official file.
Restrooms and locker rooms
Your school must allow you to use restrooms and locker rooms that align with your gender identity. If you desire more privacy and prefer to use a more private restroom or changing area, your school should accommodate that. Your school cannot force you to use a private restroom (such as in the nurse’s office) if that is not what you prefer.
Dress code and uniform policies
You have the right to wear clothing that expresses your gender identity. If your school has a policy that says what boys and girls may wear to school or for special events, then your school must allow you to wear the clothing that corresponds to your gender identity. It’s even better if school dress codes are gender-neutral and do not tell students what to wear based on stereotypes about what some people think boys or girls should wear.
If you are being bullied, harassed or discriminated against...
Don’t be silent, file a complaint!
- Ask for a Uniform Complaint Form from your front office or school district website (if you can’t find it, contact us).
- Write down a who/what/where/when/why description of every incident.
- Make sure to get a signed and dated copy of your complaint from whomever you turned it into at the office (principal, secretary, etc.).
- To find out more about filing complaints, go to www.aclusocal.org/SRP
If you have more questions or if you think that your school isn’t complying with the law, please contact us:
- ACLU Foundation of Southern California: www.aclusocal.org, (213) 977-9500
- ACLU Foundation of Northern California: www.aclunc.org, (415) 621-2493; counselors’ direct line: (415) 621-2488
- ACLU Foundation of San Diego & Imperial Counties: www.aclusandiego.org, (619) 232-2121
Get more information at: www.aclusocal.org/SRP