The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE) is considering new policies that allow school officials to help students change their race and gender identities without consulting their parents.
In language that would have been unbelievable just a few years ago, DDOE’s public notice describing its proposed changes to state anti-discrimination Regulation 225 assumes as fact that children can change their race and sex at will. The notice explains this view in sections 7.3 and 7.4 of its suggested amendments to the regulation. The clunky bureaucratese of both provisions also makes clear that if students want to change their “preferred name” or listed race and sex for student records, parents do not need to be consulted at all by school officials.
What is the justification for this? Apparently, if educators believe that the students’ parents will not be “supportive” of their children adopting new identities, they can simply be kept in the dark [emphasis mine]:
7.3 Any student who seeks to change the student's name and does not do so pursuant to 10 Del.C. §5901, may select a "preferred name" based on a Protected Characteristic, which the school shall enter in to eSchoolPLUS; however, the student's legal name shall continue to be the name maintained in eSchoolPLUS and displayed on all educational records for the student.
7.3.1 A school may request permission from the parent or legal guardian of a minor student before a "preferred name" is accepted; provided, however, that prior to requesting the permission from a parent or legal guardian, the school should consult and work closely with the student to assess the degree to which, if any, the parent or legal guardian is aware of the Protected Characteristic and is supportive of the student, and the school shall take into consideration the safety, health and well-being of the student in deciding whether to request permission from the parent or legal guardian.
7.4 All students enrolled in a Delaware public school may self-identify gender or race which is maintained in eSchoolPLUS.
7.4.1 A school may request permission from the parent or legal guardian of a minor student before a self-identified gender or race is accepted; provided, however, that prior to requesting the permission from a parent or legal guardian, the school should consult and work closely with the student to assess the degree to which, if any, the parent or legal guardian is aware of the Protected Characteristic and is supportive of the student, and the school shall take into consideration the safety, health and well-being of the student in deciding whether to request permission from the parent or legal guardian.
Most of the rest of the proposed changes to Regulation 225 contain various provisions that are designed to prevent schools and teachers from discriminating against transgender students by denying them access to school services and facilities that correspond to their gender identity. In normal speak, that means boys and girls will be able to enter one another’s bathrooms and locker rooms and even join each other’s sports teams. One of DDOE’s suggested amendments explicitly protects the right of biological girls to participate in contact sports on boys’ teams and vice-versa:
6.4 A Charter School or School District may operate or sponsor separate teams for members of each gender where selection for such teams is based upon competitive skill or the activity involved is a contact sport, provided that the requirements of subsection 126.96.36.199 are satisfied. A student shall have the opportunity to participate on the team that is consistent with the student's gender identity regardless of the student's assigned sex at birth.
6.4.1 For the purpose of subsection 6.4, a contact sport is a sport that involves bodily contact, including wrestling, football, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, field hockey, and ice hockey.
Under DDOE’s proposed changes, anyone at a state public or charter school who tries to interfere with transgender students’ new rights will be subject to everything from disciplinary hearings and “educational or cultural sensitivity training” to jail (if requisite state laws are violated by the discrimination in question).