Student Transgressions: Gender Identity and Student Support

Snapshot: A student in a conservative school district appears to be experimenting with their gender identity. Can the needs of the child be balanced against prevailing community norms? Should they?



Case Description: Within the first six months of his presidency, Donald Trump reversed multiple Obama era rules defining the rights of transgender people in both public schools and the military. Trump’s efforts mirror those at the state level to, among other things, ban transgender people from using the bathroom matching their gender identity. At the same time, trans activists and their allies have worked to organize individuals and corporations in a bid to force state courthouses and the Trump administration to reverse course. While the resistance to these new rules and laws is hardly universal, major corporations as well as members of the military have publicly expressed their sympathy to trans activists.

“Student Transgressions” explores how teachers and administrators navigate these political currents when one of their students begins to publicly question their gender identity. Together, they must figure out how to support their student and respect their evolving identity, while simultaneously working to respect community norms. This case is helpful for school leaders who are trying to think through how to best structure policies on gender identity in light of the political controversy surrounding the movement for transgender rights. Groups may want to use the “case study discussion protocol” to guide their conversation about this case.


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