Rochester Public Schools has secret policy that appears to state staff can keep the gender identity of students hidden from parents; forces staff to use preferred pronouns of students under threat of “termination”


A concerned community member provided Parents Defending Education with a transgender policy for Rochester Public Schools that is not public. The policy explains that it was created by the superintendent “for supporting transgender and gender-expansive students” until “the Rochester School Board develops and approves a policy and/or procedures to support transgender and gender-expansive students.” The policy is dated September 8, 2023.

While staff must provide parents with the information if they ask, the policy appears to state that the gender identity of students can otherwise be hidden from parents: “All students have a right to privacy, including the right to keep private one’s transgender or gender expansive status at school.” The policy further builds on this point by saying that students “and/or” parents can authorize disclosure:

To ensure the safety and well-being of the student, District employees shall not disclose a student’s gender identity, sex assigned at birth, transgender identity, or information that may reveal a student’s gender identity (e.g., birth name) to staff members, students, or parents/guardians of other students, unless such disclosure has been authorized by the student and/or their parent(s)/guardian(s). If such a disclosure is necessary, it will be documented in writing and should be discussed with the student in advance.

The policy then appears to mandate both staff and students to use the preferred pronouns of other students: “A student has the right to request that the student be referred to by a name and pronouns that correspond to the student’s gender identity by all school staff and fellow students.” Students are also allowed to use the restrooms and locker rooms and participate in sports according to their preferred gender identity.

The policy adds that staff can be “terminated” for refusing to use the preferred pronouns of students:

District employees who refuse to abide by these Guidelines may be subject to disciplinary actions, up to and including termination, as set forth in the relevant employee discipline policy. This includes a staff member’s persistent refusal to respect a student’s gender identity, for example by consistently referring to the student by a name or pronoun that does not correspond with the student’s gender identity.