Protecting The Rights Of Your Transgendered Child At School

When your child identifies himself or herself as transgendered -- biologically one gender but mentally and emotionally the other gender -- the struggle for acceptance can be rough. It shouldn't have to include a struggle against adult bullies among teachers and school administrators. If the faculty at your transgendered child's school is harassing or discriminating him or her, what can you do about it?

Take note of the types of harassment or discrimination your child faces.

One of the most common ways in which transgendered children are discriminated against comes down to something as simple as bathroom breaks. Because school administrators and teachers are often unwilling to accommodate the needs of transgendered children, bathroom privileges can become a huge issue.

Transgendered children as young as 6 have been barred from bathrooms that correspond with their sexual identity and forced to use either faculty bathrooms or the bathrooms that match their biological gender. This ends up singling the child out from his or her peers -- many of whom may be unaware of their classmate's transgendered state until that point.

Recent legal cases, however, indicate that the law is likely to side with the transgendered child if it comes to a court battle. A recent case in Maine not only granted a transgendered teen the right to use the girl's restroom, but also a $75,000 award in damages for the violation of her rights.

However, transgendered discrimination can take many forms. Keep a record of any instances in your child's school where:

  • a teacher or other school official refuses to acknowledge the name your child goes by if it isn't his or her birth name 
  • a staff member refuses to acknowledge your child by his or her gender identity (for example, making him stand in the "girl's line" before recess or during gym)
  • anyone takes it upon themselves to tell another student or a student's parent about your child's biological gender
  • sexist comments that are disparaging about your child's gender identity, such as how he should "toughen up" if he's going to dress like a boy

You can enforce your child's rights and possibly recover damages as well.

Just recently, the U.S. Department of Justice has made it clear that preventing a transgendered child from using the restroom that corresponds with his or her gender identity is a violation of the Title IX U.S. Education Amendment. If necessary, you can sue to enforce that ruling. You may also be able to sue for the intentional infliction of emotional distress, depending on the level of harassment and discrimination your child has experienced from the staff in his or her school.

In order to be successful, you have to establish that the conduct directed at your child was extreme or outrageous and that your child has suffered severe emotional distress as a result. That makes it particularly important to keep track of each event as it happens, as well as how it has affected your child's emotional and psychological state. 

If your transgendered child has experienced discrimination and harassment at school from teachers and staff, talk to an attorney, such as those at Bayer Jerger & Underwood, right away about the possibility of a lawsuit to end the victimization.