Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission (PHRC) Guidance (August 2, 2018)

PHRC Guidance is applicable to all public school entities in Pennsylvania.

The PHRC takes the position that whenever the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, it includes discrimination on the basis of sex assigned at birth, sexual orientation, transgender identity, gender transition, gender identity and gender expression. The PHRC Guidelines explain that the PHRC intends to accept, investigate, and adjudicate cases with this understanding of the term “sex.”

Privacy: PHRC cites Doe v. Boyertown Area School District to advise that the privacy rights of other students are not affected when transgender students are allowed to use restrooms or locker rooms aligned with their gender identity. Transgender students may experience harm when school policies do not allow such accommodations.

Safety Concerns: There is no authority or data to support that there will be an increase in sexual assaults if cisgender women and children share restrooms with transgender women.

Sex Change Surgery: Protection under the PHRA and PHRC Guidance is not dependent on whether gender reassignment surgery has occurred or not.

PHRC Full Guidance

PHRC Comment Response

Pennsylvania Agency Policies and Resources Affecting Transgender Students

Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) Collection of Resources: PDE has created a collection of state and federal resources, as well as key terminology, for creating gender-inclusive schools and classrooms:

Birth Certificates:  The following resource documents the process for birth certificates to be amended to reflect a different gender in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. An amended birth certificate should not be thought of as a prerequisite to other accommodations for transgender students:

Pennsylvania Information Management System (PIMS) Gender Reporting: The PDE PIMS Manual allows a parent/guardian to request a change of a student’s listed gender, first name or middle name on their records. If such a request occurs, the local education agency may report the student’s preferred information using the following guidelines:

  • The change must be made in PASecureID
  • The PIMS data must match what is reported in PASecureID
  • The student’s name and gender information reported in prior years should not be updated
  • The student’s PASecureID will not be changed

Previous U.S. Department of Education Guidance

In a February 2017 Guidance letter, the Trump administration withdrew previous guidance from the Obama administration. The rescinded guidance provided that prohibitions on discrimination on the basis of sex in Title IX required students to have access to sex-segregated facilities based on their gender identity. The administration’s guidance emphasized that students have the right to continued protection from discrimination, bullying and harassment, but cited the need for local school districts and states to take a primary role in decisions regarding educational policy.

February 2017 Guidance Letter