Illinois Math and Science Academy has policy that keeps student gender transitions a secret from parents, administrators discussing the creation of “gender inclusive housing,” documents and emails reveal


Freedom of Information Act requests reveal that Illinois Math and Science Academy has a “Gender Support Process and Plan” that allows staff to hide a students’ transition from parents. Documents also reveal that students are required to attend LGBT and LGBT Ally trainings that include the use of the Genderbread person and topics such as “coming out.”

[Illinois Math and Science Academy is a publicly funded institution through the Illinois Board of Higher Education and includes residential dormitories for its student population.]

The support plan states that per the Student Diversity Climate Survey, there is a “trend of students feeling unsafe on campus due to their race and gender.” It also claims that “approximately 1/3 of students who feel unsafe on campus is a result of their gender identities and/or expression of gender.”

Correspondence from the Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion reveals that the word “unsafe” is “not defined in the survey.”

According to the document, in order to “create a safe, inclusive, cultural strategy of belonging, rooted in equity, a gender support plan and process have been implemented.” The plan and process have been “informed by and modeled after similar plans from Gender Spectrum, Laurie’s Children’s Hospital, and Chicago Public Schools.”

The plan is intended to “guide IMSA in supporting their needs, as well as assisting their social transition while at school.” Supports “may include, but not limited to the following: access to restrooms, locker room accessibility, affirmation of student’s chosen name and pronouns, disclosure of students identity as requested by student, confidentiality of gender identity as requested by student, social-emotional supports, staff training, and other supports expressed by the student.”

The policy also (incorrectly) states that the Title IX statute currently “protects students from discrimination on the basis of sex (including sexual orientation and gender identity) in educational programs and activities.”

The “Confidential” support plan states that “all students have a right to privacy” and that “school staff shall not disclose a student’s transgender or gender nonconforming identity to parents/guardians without the student’s permission.

According to the school’s E2: Equity and Excellence Framework, it is working to implement a “Gender Inclusivity Project” that includes a “pronoun practice/policy” and the “development of gender inclusive living.”

Per emails from administration, the school was concerned with “being in compliance with new Title IX regulations that adds gender and gender expression.” A follow up email states that the Gender Support Plan was a “piloted this academic year [2022-2023].” It is unclear if the support plan was approved by the school trustees or not.

Emails reveal an administrator suggesting to a residence counselor how to proceed regarding a misuse of pronouns between a student and counselor. The administrator states that the staff member has a “right to submit a bias incident report” to be investigated.

According to the Academy’s Gender and Sexual Orientation Education page, seniors “engage in a 3-hour Gender and Sexual Orientation Diversity Education Workshop utilizing the Safe Zone Project curriculum.” The stated goal is to ” increase the awareness, knowledge, and skills for individuals and address the challenges that exist when one wants to advocate for their LGBTQIA (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning, intersex, asexual)+ peers, family members, friends, and for themselves.”

As part of the Safe Zone curriculum, a document titled “LGBTQIA+ Allyship at IMSA” is provided along with a facilitator guide. One of the sections in the guide includes “Coming Out” that states that “for most folks coming out is a series of decisions – sometimes daily – that LGBTQ people navigate in every new setting they enter.” It also states that “it’s dangerous, unhealthy, and unhelpful to force someone to come out, or to “out” someone else (i.e. disclosing someone’s gender identity or sexual orientation to others without the person’s consent), regardless of your intentions.”

The document includes The Genderbread Person.

Also included in the Allyship document is a page titled “Being Respectful to Transgender People” and lists statements to be used by transgender students. Statements include:

  • “I am not here to shock anyone or get attention. Being transgender is not a choice. The only choice I have made is whether or not to live authentically as my true self.”
  • “If you ask everyone what pronouns they use (for example on forms, at the beginning of classes and workshops etc.) then I am not singled out. It is a very inclusive best practice tip.”
  • “The changes I make to my body are not cosmetic, but rather reconstructive. Having a body I am comfortable with is vital to my health.”
  • “If I am a transman getting top surgery, then I am not ‘getting my breasts removed.’ I am having chest reconstruction.”