Metro Weekly

Philadelphia schools will allow students to select nonbinary gender markers on virtual platforms

District policy requires teachers and administrators to recognize a student's gender identity, but statewide databases will not.

Philadelphia
Photo: Annie Spratt, via Unsplash.

The School District of Philadelphia will allow students to select a nonbinary gender marker on two virtual education platforms. 

Superintendent William Hite announced last week that the nonbinary option will appear alongside existing “male” and “female” gender markers on Infinite Campus and Google Classroom, two platforms utilized by the district for online or remote learning.

In a letter to parents and families, Hite explained that students who are transgender or gender-nonconforming will be able to choose how their name and gender display on the online platforms.

Students may choose to update their name and gender in Google only, which will only update their profile information in Google tools such as Google Classroom or Google Meet.

They may also choose to update their name and gender in SIS, including Google platforms, which would update information across Google and most other electronic systems, including in Schoolnet, on STAR assessments, and on their report cards.

This is allowed due to a district policy affirming the right of students to select their preferred name and gender for school, regardless of whether or not they have undergone a gender transition or had their birth certificate amended to reflect their gender identity, reports The Hill.

Teachers and administrators will be required to use a student’s preferred gender identity or pronouns, as indicated in a student’s online profile, and any “persistent refusal” to do so will be considered a violation of the policy.

Hite noted in his letter that the updates or changes that students make to their profile on a district level will not carry over to state-run electronic platforms, which require use of a student’s legal name and gender as reflected on their birth certificate.

“When submitting information to the PA State Department of Education, the District will be able to note that a student identifies as non-binary, but the state is required to record and display the information from the legal birth certificate,” Hite wrote.

See also: Loudoun County settles with teacher who was suspended for refusing to use trans students’ pronouns

The district has advocated for a change at the state and federal levels to recognize a student’s gender identity regardless of what their birth certificate says, but legislation would likely be required to institute such a change.

Earlier this fall, the Philadelphia School District promised that every school building would have at least one single-stall, gender-neutral restroom available for any student, regardless of gender identity, who feels uncomfortable using shared public facilities — yet another example of how the district has tried to ensure accommodations are in place for transgender, nonbinary, and gender-nonconforming students.

“The School District of Philadelphia is committed to providing safe and inclusive learning environments that support the emotional and mental health of all our students,” Hite wrote, adding, “Thank you for your partnership as we strive to support the physical, mental and emotional well-being of all Philadelphia children.”

See also:

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