Assistance in helping better serve gender non-conforming students

Since the passage of PA 11-55 I have been receiving a number of calls for assistance in helping better serve gender non-conforming students. Although I am happy to help I want to refer you also to a local resource that has a great deal of expertise in working with transgender students.


Robin McHaelen

Executive Director

True Colors, Inc.

30 Arbor Street, Suite 201A
Hartford, CT 06106
(860) 232-0050, ext. 302



Robin just came back from out of state where she provided training to an entire school district. Her non-profit agency also runs a highly popular conference. Details as follows.


The 20th annual True Colors conference will be held on Thursday, March 21- Saturday, March 23, 2013 at the University of CT in Storrs.  This conference offers country’s largest and most comprehensive lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth/young adult selection of workshops and activities for youth, as well as their teachers and educators.


Up to 15.5 hours of continuing education are available for Educators, Social Workers, MFT’s, Nurses, and other mental health professionals. Thursday, a Professional Best Practices Institute, begins with Dr. Caitlyn Ryan whose keynote will focus on supporting ethnically and religiously diverse families as their children come out.


Throughout the conference, participants can choose among more than 180 workshops that explore LGBT youth and young adult experiences in mental health, education, juvenile justice and within health care settings. In particular, there are a number of workshops specifically focused on the needs of gender non-conforming and transgender children and adolescents.  For more information or to register, please see or call (860) 232-0050, ext. 301.

True Colors works to create a world where youth, adults and families of all sexual orientations and gender identities are valued and affirmed. We challenge all forms of oppression through education, training, advocacy, youth leadership development, mentoring and direct services to youth and those responsible for their well-being. We can be reached at 888-565-5551, or on the web at <>


Fitzgerald v. Barnstable Revisited

From ATIXA –

ATIXA is the Association of Title IX Administrators [in higher education]. This is from their newsletter.

Start quote>>>

The last week in January was the four-year anniversary of a “gamechanging” Title IX decision by the United States Supreme Court: Fitzgerald v. Barnstable School Committee (129 S.Ct. 788 (2009)).  The Court made a key determination that has the potential to personally impact administrators nationwide.

Without getting into the legal nitty-gritty, the Court’s decision makes it possible to use a long-standing civil rights statute, 42 US § 1983, to hold administrators personally liable for their role in an incident of alleged sexual harassment/discrimination (including retaliation, deliberately indifferent response etc.). In other words, the Court held that Title IX is not the exclusive mechanism for addressing gender discrimination, nor a substitute for a §1983 action pertaining to sex discrimination cases.  Complainants could use both Title IX and 1983 concurrently.

What this means is that administrators at state institutions [public schools] and those acting under the color of state law, can be personally sued and responsible for paying damages, injunctive relief and even attorney’s fees. Know that if you are acting within the scope of your employment and following your institution’s policies and procedures, it is very likely your institution will help defend you, should you be named in a §1983 lawsuit.

We do not share this tip to frighten, but to inform and to remind each of us of the importance of following fair, equitable and prompt procedures.

End quote>>>
What this means in practice includes the following:


    1. All certified & non-certified staff should have a training in Title IX and all other state & federal civil rights laws, with an annual refresher. Do not forget Title VI (race, color, national origin) and PA 11-55 (gender identity).

  • All students should be educated in laws and school policies on discrimination and school conduct – particularly Title IX.
  • Policies as well as grievance procedures must be in the student and employee handbook and on your website.
  • Parents/Guardians should be made aware of policies and procedures.
  • School Climate Coordinators and Specialists, in particular,  should be trained in state/federal civil rights laws and have an understanding of what conduct constitutes criminal acts – and they should be trained on how to conduct investigations. Please note that a bill has been presented before the CT state legislature on this topic.
    HB 6274… AN ACT CONCERNING TRAINING FOR THE INVESTIGATION AND MANAGEMENT OF CLAIMS OF SCHOOL BULLYING. To provide training for those persons responsible for investigating and managing claims of school bullying.


We are running 4 workshops on Conducting Investigations & Report Writing – March 25, 26, April 1 or April 2.  – please share widely.


A reminder to familiarize yourself thoroughly with this website – the PowerPoint for Title IX and Investigation training is on the site.

Bullying and Harassment –


Four Things You Probably Don’t Know About Title IX


Title IX is an enormously important law for female athletes — no other law has done more to expand opportunities for women and girls in athletics. But what many people don’t know is that the benefits and protections of Title IX aren’t limited to athletics.

Written by Becka Wall for RH Reality Check. This diary is cross-posted; commenters wishing to engage directly with the author should do so at the original post.


Tomorrow, Wednesday, February 6th, is National Girls & Women in Sports Day, which has people singing the praises of Title IX from soccer fields, softball diamonds, tracks, pools and countless other sporting venues — and for good reason! Title IX is an enormously important law for female athletes — no other law has done more to expand opportunities for women and girls in athletics. While there is still work to be done, the progress we have made thanks to Title IX is tremendous.

But what many people don’t know is that the benefits and protections of Title IX aren’t limited to athletics. Here are four other ways Title IX is there for young women (and men, too):


1. Equal opportunities in career and technical programs in traditionally male-dominated fields

Title IX requires that girls and boys be given equal opportunities in career and technical education programs, particularly in traditionally male-dominated fields. Getting more women in these fields may be the key to closing the gender wage gap, since predominantly female occupations pay lower wages than predominantly male ones. Women still face barriers and a lack of encouragement in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math (often referred to as STEM), but Title IX has broadened opportunities for a number of women and girls.

Shree Bose, a student at Harvard University, took science and math courses from a young age, finding her calling and her passion in science. As a result of winning the 2011 Google Science Fair for her important breakthrough for chemotherapy resistance treatment, she was invited to speak at conferences, attend an Ivy League university, and even meet the president! We need more girls like Shree, and Title IX is working to ensure that all girls who have an interest in STEM fields or classes are able to pursue them.

2. Protection for pregnant & parenting students

Title IX requires that pregnant and parenting students have equal access to schools and activities, that all separate programs are completely voluntary, and that schools excuse absences due to pregnancy or childbirth for as long as it is deemed medically necessary. In short: pregnancy should be treated no differently than a temporary medical condition.

Yet many pregnant and parenting students still face discrimination in their schools. Take the story of Lisette Orellana, a straight-A student who had taken all the usual precautions and still got pregnant, and instead of support from her favorite teachers, she now faced discrimination and bullying from not only her fellow students, but also her favorite teachers. Despite the fact that it was a battle to go to school every morning and face those who were actively rooting against her, Orellana graduated with honors. Orellana is a rare success story, however — only about one-half of teen mothers get a high school diploma by age 22,compared with 89 percent of women who do not have a child during their teen years. One-third of teenage mothers never get a G.E.D. or diploma, and less than 2 percent of young teenage mothers attain a college degree by age 30.

Or look at the discrimination faced by Stephanie Stewart, a 27-year-old student at a public university in New York City who was told by a professor (in a class entitled “Roles of Women”) that she would not be allowed to make up tests or assignments resulting from any pregnancy-related absences. When Stewart went to the dean and other administrators to reverse the decision, they told her that professors have the right to set their own rules about absences and make-up work. They declined to intervene on Stewart’s behalf and recommended that she drop the class. The National Women’s Law Center recently filed a case on her behalf against the City University of New York.

3. Protections against sexual harassment and bullying

Sexual harassmentis a form of prohibited sex discrimination in schools under Title IX, and much of what we call “bullying” is actually prohibited harassment.

Forty-eight percent of all elementary school teachers nationwide reported that they have heard students make sexist remarks at their school, and one-third of students have heard kids at school say that girls or boys should not do or wear certain things because of their gender. Fifty-six percent of students who don’t conform to traditional gender norms say that they are bullied at school and 85 percent of LGBT students report being verbally harassed, with 64 percent being verbally harassed because of their gender expression. Title IX protects allstudents — male and female — from harassment and bullying.

Many girls face harassment, bullying, and unresponsive or ineffectual administrators in their schools every day and don’t know that Title IX’s protections apply to them. That’s exactly what happened to Leia Brugger. It wasn’t until her mother Googled “harassment in schools” that she found the tools she needed to wake the school up to their legal responsibilities and force them to take action to make the school a more open and welcoming learning environment  —  and today Leia pitches for the school’s baseball team and is excited about her first year of high school.

4. Protections for survivors of sexual assault or rape

Title IX grants protections for survivors of sexual assault and rape by requiring schools to provide a prompt and equitable resolution of sexual violence complaints, investigate those complaints regardless of whether or not law enforcement is involved, provide alternate housing a comfortable distance from attackers, and provide counseling, medical, and academic support.

In the words of former NWLC intern Dana Bolger, who learned about the full protections of Title IX after being raped her sophomore year of college, “Title IX is not just about sports. It says your college can’t make you leave school because you were raped and feel unsafe. They’re supposed to make sure the campus is not a sexually hostile environment.”

Sadly, many schools aren’t living up to their commitments  —  students found responsibleoften face little to no consequences. If more young women are aware of and demand their rights in these situations, perhaps schools will take their legal obligations a little more seriously.

Title IX was — and still is — a landmark piece of legislation not only for female athletes, but for female and male students of all ages. As a result of Title IX, students can go to school knowing that the law is on their side so that they can have a well-rounded education, get out on the field, pursue the career they wish, continue attending school if they get pregnant, and experience a healthy and safe learning environment.


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