While most of the conversations in schools about gender transition has been focused on students, schools need to be aware that transgender employees may be involved in gender transition as well. Federal laws against sex and disability discrimination make it illegal to fire, refuse to hire, harass, or otherwise discriminate against transgender employees (Bostock v. Clayton County). Similarly, school district policies prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex protect transgender employees from workplace discrimination.
However, it can be difficult to find practical guidance and best practices for working with transitioning employees. Remember, the job setting, the nature of the employee’s job, the amount of interaction the employee has with other employees and students, and the surrounding district/building culture can all affect an employee while transitioning. For these reasons, there is no single formula for managing the workplace for employees while transitioning.
Generally, schools can prepare themselves for employee gender transitions by consulting with their legal counsel about their obligations before meeting with the employee in transition to discuss changes that may need to be made. The district should allow the timing of any necessary changes to be guided by the employee and his or her readiness for them. Matters that may come up for consideration during the process and should be discussed with legal counsel include the following:
- The person's name on district records.
- Coverage under district health benefits.
- Communications to staff.
- Restroom and locker room use.
- Dress code rules.
- Employee conduct and training.
- Parent and student communications.
Other practical guidance includes being knowledgeable about the legal definitions of gender and preparing how the district will educate its other employees about diversity and inclusion.
Available resources on best practices and policies for transitioning employees include:
- Human Rights Campaign’s Template for Gender Transition Guidelines.
- U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Preventing Employment Discrimination Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender Workers.
- U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration Best Practices Guide for Restroom Access and Transgender Employees.
OSBA’s division of legal services will continue to monitor this issue and share resources as they become available. For more information or to ask questions, contact the division at (855) OSBA-LAW.