Statement from the Board of Education of Frederick County

On November 21, 2016, the Board of Education of Frederick County (Board) issued a statement to reaffirm our commitment to fostering a school and community environment that is welcoming, affirming and promotes kindness, dignity and respect. In that statement we wrote: "To every one of our students, families, teachers, staff, and administrators, we welcome you. We are so glad to have you in the Frederick County Public School (FCPS) community. We value and appreciate your unique interests and talents, your experiences, your religion or creed, your national origin or ancestry, your race, your gender, your gender identity or gender expression; your ethnicity, your sexual orientation, the color of your skin, your political affiliation, the languages you speak, your military service, and your varied abilities, challenges and physical or emotional disabilities. Indeed, all that is unique about you creates tremendous diversity and value for our school community."

Our Board reaffirms those words. Sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression are all protected classes within the FCPS non-discrimination policy. However, we recognize that we have to do more than reassure our community, particularly those students who may be feeling vulnerable or afraid because of their gender identity or expression.

On March 8, 2017, the Board will begin discussion of a policy that will be designed to ensure consistent and affirming school environments for our students who identify as transgender or gender nonconforming. It is currently the practice of FCPS to ensure students have access to restrooms and other facilities that align with their gender identities and to ensure students are identified using their preferred names and pronouns. But, our Board recognizes that enforcement of these practices is not consistent from school to school and requires the backing of clear policy.

As with all new policy, the Board will discuss, deliberate and ensure ample opportunity for public comment, but new policy will align with the civil rights guarantees set forth in Title IX of the U.S. Education Amendments of 1972 as well as the Maryland State Department of Education’s Providing Safe Spaces for Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Youth: Guidelines for Gender Identity Non-Discrimination, as well as our own policies and regulations.

We appreciate the community feedback and encouragement to ensure all students feel safe and welcome in our schools. FCPS must be a place where all students are affirmed for exactly who they are and exactly as they are and protected against discrimination, stigmatization, bullying or harassment. We welcome and encourage continued engagement with the community, particularly transgender and gender nonconforming students and their families, as we develop policy.