Inclusive school nondiscrimination policies
Wisconsin’s pupil nondiscrimination law (state statute 118.13) does not protect students based on their gender identity and gender expression. A clear majority of Wisconsin school districts, however, have added these protections to their local Pupil Nondiscrimination and/or Access to Equal Educational Opportunity policies.
Without these protections, transgender and nonbinary students could be denied admission to any public school and denied participation in, be denied the benefits of or be discriminated against in any curricular, extracuricular, pupil services, recreational or other program or activity.
While exact wording varies district to district, "gender identity" is the most commonly used phrase to indicate protections for transgender and nonbinary students. We used this measure to determine the presence or absence of inclusive policy. If inclusive policy is present (ie, includes the term “gender identity”), a district earns a “Yes.” If not, it earns a “No.” In some cases, we were unable to obtain a copy of a district’s local nondiscrimination policy and designated them as “Unclear.”
For more information on Wisconsin's Pupil Nondiscrimination Law, including steps for filing a complaint, please visit the DPI website.
Inclusive School Nondiscrimination Procedures
Procedures help educators implement inclusive nondiscrimination policies and provide guidance around topics such as privacy, names and pronouns, restrooms and changing areas, field trips and overnight accommodations, dress codes, physical education, interscholastic athletics, and more. Procedures are adopted locally and vary from district to district.
Some districts adopt procedures that contradict their nondiscrimination policy and runs counter to the best practices that support the well-being and success of transgender and nonbinary students. For instance, while it is best practice to use the name and pronouns any student wishes to go by, some districts have procedures that prohibit this for transgender and nonbinary students under 18 without parental consent.
Additionally, it is best practice to allow students to participate in interscholastic athletics in a way that aligns with their gender identity. Most districts with guidance procedures defer to the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association’s (WIAA) transgender athletes policy, which effectively prevents the participation of transgender and nonbinary students in competitive athletics, particularly transgender girls.
EVALUATION OF DISTRICT NONDISCRIMINATION PROCEDURES
Using model language from GLSEN and National Center for Transgender Equality’s 2020 Model Local Education Agency Policy and Transgender and Nonbinary Students as a benchmark against which to evaluate each subcategory of local district procedures, we arrived at the following results:
“Yes” =Subcategory closely aligns with the spirit of the model language.
“Yes w/concerns” = Subcategory does not align with the spirit of the model language and/or directs staff to act in ways that could harm transgender and nonbinary students.
“No” = The district provides no guidance in this subcategory.
|More Info||Policy / Procedure Subcategories||Policy / Procedure Exists?|
|Privacy and Confidentiality||Yes|
|Names, Pronouns and School Records||Yes w/concerns|
|Restrooms and Changing Areas||Yes|
|Field trips and overnight accommodations||No|
|P.E. and Athletic Participation||Yes w/concerns|
|Interscholastic Athletics||Yes w/concers|
|Other Gender-Based Activities, Rules, Policies and Practices||No|
|Training and Professional Development||No|