Statement Regarding Proposed Changes to Current Gender Inclusive Schools Policy
At Oak Harbor Public Schools (OHPS), we believe our schools should be a place where all students feel safe, supported, and valued. It takes a collective effort to ensure every student has the tools they need to succeed and a sense of belonging on our campuses. We continue to value and prioritize partnering with families, community members, students, and staff to ensure students' needs are met.
Over the past few weeks, our community has voiced their input on proposed changes to the current 3211P:Gender Inclusive Schools Policy recommended by the Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA). The OHPS Board of Directors values community input on important topics that impact our students and families. The policy will remain under discussion by our Board of Directors as we continue to work with our community, legal counsel, Office of Civil Rights, state partners, and fellow school districts on this sensitive topic.
As we continue to have these discussions, it’s important to clarify the current policy and proposed language changes. The proposed changes provided by WSSDA included adding language that stated counselors would consider safety concerns in addition to consultation with the student regarding family involvement before contacting a student’s family. The proposed policy changes do not state that counselors will proactively inform parents/guardians of their student’s gender preference without student consent. It also does not change the student’s right to privacy and confidentiality under current Washington laws.
To aid in future discussions, we put together a frequently asked questions (FAQ) below to provide facts about the current policy and proposed changes by WSSDA.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is this policy change being considered?
On a regular basis, the Washington State School Directors Association (WSSDA) advises updates to board policies for school boards to consider and discuss. School administrators share these advised changes with school boards for them to determine if they want to adopt the changes, make additional adjustments, or keep the policy as is. School districts across the state were also provided the same proposed language and some have already adopted the changes.
So far, Oak Harbor Public Schools has provided the set of recommended changes to the Gender Inclusive Schools Policy to the Board of Directors, but no action has been taken. The policy will remain under discussion as we work with our community, state partners and fellow school districts.
Additionally, the WSSDA provided the following regarding the recommended changes to the policy that school districts across the state will consider or have considered recently:
“Very recently, items needing clarification in the model procedure came to our attention, and WSSDA has made small but important revisions to Model Procedure 3211P–Gender-Inclusive Schools. This is an Essential procedure. The first revision relates to whether the school district should affirmatively inform the parent if a student seeks to change their gender expression at school. The revision specifies that the governing consideration is the student’s safety.
Another revision clarifies that parents have the right under FERPA to request their own student’s educational records, including any records that might include information about the student’s gender identity at school. Although school districts do not have an affirmative duty to alert the student’s parents when a student asserts a different gender identity from the one assigned at birth, school districts should never withhold a student’s educational records from a parent who requests those records, unless the parent has lost some or all parental rights.”
What changes are being considered to the policy?
The proposed changes provided by WSSDA included adding language that stated counselors would consider safety concerns in addition to consultation with the student before contacting a student’s family regarding their gender preference. The proposed policy changes do not state that counselors will proactively inform parents/guardians of their student’s gender preference without student consent.
The additional change clarifies that parents have the right under FERPA to request their own student’s educational records, including records that may contain information about the students gender preference.