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Arcadia school district settles federal transgender discrimination investigation

Arcadia Unified Superintendent Joel Shawn.
Arcadia Unified Superintendent Joel Shawn.
Adolfo Guzman-Lopez/ KPCC

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The U.S. Department of Education announced on Wednesday that it has entered into a settlement agreement with the Arcadia Unified School District to resolve a federal investigation into whether the district discriminated against a transgender student.

A 2011 complaint accused Arcadia Unified of refusing to let a transgender student, who identifies as a boy, use the boy’s locker rooms or bathrooms. Federal laws prohibit discrimination of students based on their sex.

In a settlement agreement with the federal Department of Education, Arcadia Unified agreed to several changes, including:

•      Create a safe, nondiscriminatory learning environment for students who are transgender or do not conform to gender stereotypes;

•      Amend policies and procedures to reflect that discrimination based on a student’s gender identity, transgender status, and nonconformity with gender stereotypes, is a form of discrimination based on sex; and

•      Train administrators and faculty on preventing gender-based discrimination and creating a nondiscriminatory school environment for transgender students. 

“All students, including transgender students, have the right to attend school free from discrimination based on their sex,” Jocelyn Samuels, Acting Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, said in a press release. “We commend the district for taking affirmative steps to ensure that this student and his peers can continue to learn and thrive in a safe and nondiscriminatory environment.”

The agreement comes just weeks after the California legislature acted on the same issue. Earlier this month, legislators approved Assembly Bill 1266, which would compel public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity. The bill is awaiting the governor's signature.