The answers are based on Title IX, the federal law barring federally-funded schools from discriminating based on sex and gender, and the Minnesota Human Rights Act, which prohibits the discrimination in education (and elsewhere) based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity. The advice is technical, although in practice your district may not be compliant. This FAQ should not be taken as legal advice, but only as a reference. If you find that your district is violating any of the following items and you wish to seek help and resources, please feel free to contact Outfront Minnesota’s legal team.
prohibits discrimination in federallyfunded public schools on the basis of "sex" (See: 20 USC § 1681). The term "sex" in federal law has increasingly been interpreted to encompass "gender roles" – in other words, enforcing gender roles constitutes sex discrimination. School districts which discriminate on the basis of a student's failure or refusal to adhere to gender role stereotypes, or which look the other way when such a student is harassed by others, face the potential of liability under federal law. The US Department of Education takes the position that Title IX in fact bars all discrimination against trans* students in federallyfunded schools.
The Minnesota Human Rights Act:
prohibits discrimination in education (See: Minn. Stat. § 363A.13). According to a 1993 amendment, schools are prohibited from differential treatment towards students on the basis of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, which was defined by the Minnesota Legislature as including those who "have or are perceived as having a selfimage or identity not traditionally associated with their biological maleness or femaleness" (See: Minn. Stat. § 363A. 03, subd. 44). Through the use of this terminology, MHRA prohibits discrimination against trans* students in all aspects of education. This would include differential treatment of students who do not fit the gender role usually assigned to persons with similar anatomy.
Trans Youth FAQ
Can my teacher refuse to use my gender pronouns/name?
No. A teacher specifically refusing to refer to a student by the proper gender pronouns is likely in violation of the law.
Which bathroom should I/can I use?
The law is definitely in a state of flux on this issue. Minnesota law does not currently guarantee a person the right to use the restroom which corresponds to their gender identity (as opposed to their anatomy), though a school is entitled to permit a student to do so anyway. Transgender folks who have had gender affirmation/confirmation surgery have the right to use the bathroom corresponding to the sex to which they have transitioned. However, the US Department of Justice has taken the position that Title IX requires that schools allow transgender students to use the restroom which corresponds to their gender identity.
Which sports team can I play on?
According to the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL), students have the right to play on the team that best matches their gender identity. However, transgender female students (i.e., designated male at birth but who identify as female) must provide documentation and a statement from a parent or legal guardian confirming the student’s gender identity. The proper information from the MSHSL can be found here: http://www.mshsl.org/mshsl/ParticipationInMSHSLActivities12_4_14.pdf
Can I be expelled for being transgender?
No. You cannot (legally) be expelled from any district or school that is federally funded. A school also cannot “suggest” that you leave if you are being bullied or harassed for your gender identity, claiming that removing you from the school environment will fix the problem. Title IX states that a school may not retaliate against a student for making a claim of harassment or discrimination and cannot suggest that the complainant be the one to fix the problem. According to the Minnesota Human Rights Act (Minn. Stat. § 363A.13 subd. 2) you cannot be excluded or expelled from your school.
Can I be suspended for wearing clothing that does not “match” the gender that I was assigned/designated at birth?
A court ruling in 2002 in MA, ruled that a school cannot enforce gendered dress and doing so violates a student’s first amendment rights. As long as your clothing is still compliant with your dress code (i.e. if you are dressed appropriately for school) you are allowed to express your gender in whatever way you feel fits. Multiple courts have also ruled in favor of students under the first amendment.
The responses to these questions are based off of Title IX, the Minnesota Human Rights Act, rulings on the First Amendment, and legal responses from Outfront Minnesota’s attorney Phil Duran. This FAQ should not be taken as legal advice an only as a reference. If you think your school is violating your rights, please contact an LGBTQ legal resource, such as Phil Duran at Outfront or the Transgender Law Center.