Salem-Keizer Public Schools implements transgender policy to keep gender identity of students secret from parents; will implement transgender issues into curriculum taught to students


Concerned community members reached out to Parents Defending Education regarding transgender policies implemented by Salem-Keizer Public Schools, including policies to keep parents in the dark regarding their children’s gender identities. PDE confirmed their concerns with findings publicly available on the school district’s website. The district has a page online titled “District Policies, Procedures, and Forms.”

One policy on the page is titled “Protecting Transgender Student Privacy” and is dated February 15, 2022. The policy states: “This procedure outlines the steps that district staff should take in order to protect the privacy of a student when they wish to affirm their identity at school as two-spirit, transgender, nonbinary, or another gender nonconforming identity.” This policy then explains that teachers will not tell parents – known as “caregivers” – about the gender identity of their children:

School staff will not disclose any information that may reveal a student’s transgender status to others, including caregivers, other school staff, and students, unless the student has authorized such disclosure, or the staff member is legally required to do so.

The policy continues to explain regarding the district’s Synergy program: “Schools cannot require legal paperwork, official proof, or parent permission for student name changes or gender changes.” The policy then states that there is a “Student Gender Transition Plan”:

When a student reaches out to a staff member about their gender identity and/or desires to transition at school, staff will let the student know of the Student Gender Transition Plan that they can complete in a meeting with trusted staff at their discretion.

Another policy is titled “Accessible Athletics for Transgender, Nonbinary, and Gender Nonconforming Students.” This policy states: “K-12 physical education courses will not deny transgender students access to a class or class activity based on their assigned sex, nor will they separate gender inclusive physical education class activities by gender.” The policy continues to explain:

Every student who participates in OSAA (Oregon School Activities Association) team athletics will be considered for eligibility on the team that most aligns with their gender identity, regardless of whether the student has undergone any medical gender-affirming treatment.

This includes students who identify as “nonbinary.” The policy explains that “a nonbinary or intersex student shall be treated as a binary gender of the student’s choosing for purposes of eligibility for athletics and activities that are gender‐specific.”

The school district has an additional document labeled as “Transgender, Nonbinary, and Gender Nonconforming Student – Student Equity” on the page that is dated February 15, 2022. The district explains in this document that the intention is to “affirm” students who identify as transgender: “The efforts of creating gender affirming spaces allows students to flourish in their mental wellbeing and succeed academically.”

One goal for the district is to change the curriculum taught to students to implement transgender topics and issues and provide transgender training to staff. The district states that it will work to “inform district practices on student transition, curriculum, activities, physical accommodations, and professional development.”

The district also explains in the document that it will “ensure that staff receive mandatory professional development related to gender equity and culturally responsive practices and monitor implementation of that learning.” The district will also “work continuously to create and uphold a culture that is inclusive, welcoming, and celebrates the gender diversity found within our community.”

The concerned community members also provided PDE with a presentation titled “Trans Student Policy and Procedures” that is dated March 31, 2022. The presentation states that the district’s transgender policies are “life-saving and affirming practice.” The presentation states that these policies include “changes educators can make when teaching to best support LGBTQ+ topics, or topics important to the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ students.” The following are listed as examples:

  • All school libraries will house books and/or resources on gender identity and sexuality, including informational books and inclusive narratives from a wide variety of authors from diverse and intersectional backgrounds. This includes but is not limited to people of color and disabled people.
  • K-12 curriculum will work to include gender and sexuality diversity in ways relevant to the subjects taught.
  • K-12 physical education courses will not deny transgender students access to a class or class activity based on their assigned sex, nor will they separate gender inclusive physical education class activities by gender.

The presentation also states that on overnight field trips students will have sleeping arrangements according to their preferred gender identity rather than their biological sex: “In sleeping arrangements segregated by gender, transgender students are allowed to room with the gender group or individuals they choose, with consideration for gender affirmation and student safety.”

The district additionally promotes “social activism” from teachers in the presentation by allowing “district staff to show visible allyship to focal groups.” Examples include “pride flags, pronoun or pride buttons, signage, etc.”