South Orange-Maplewood School District allows teachers to keep the gender identity of students a secret from parents


On May 17, 2021, the South Orange-Maplewood School District updated a policy titled “Transgender and Nonbinary Students.” In the policy, the district explains that “children typically begin to understand their own gender identity by age four.” The district also explains in the policy that teachers and schools can keep the gender identity of students a secret from parents. The policy states: “The school district shall accept a student’s asserted gender identity and/or chosen name; parental consent is not required.” The policy further explains that “there is no affirmative duty for any school district staff member to notify a student’s parent of a change to the student’s gender identity or expression.”

The policy additionally mandates that school staff use the preferred name and pronouns of students by explaining that “every student has the right to be addressed by a name and pronouns that correspond to the student’s gender identity.” The policy also mandates training for teachers: “The Superintendent or designee should ensure regular training is provided to school staff members on sensitivity and respect towards LGBTQ+ and transgender students.”

Students who identify as transgender can also participate in “intramural and interscholastic” sports “in a manner consistent with their gender identity.” The policy further states: “All students are entitled to have access to restrooms, locker rooms, and changing facilities in accordance with their gender identity to allow for involvement in various school programs and activities.” The policy explains that “the direction for accommodations should come from the student.”

The school district’s website has an article promoting a “Lavender Graduation” for 2021. This graduation ceremony appears to be segregated for students who identify as either LGBTQ or “allied students.” The district explains: “LGBTQIA+ and allied high school senior students that register will be acknowledged with a certificate and either rainbow honor cords or a rainbow tassel.” The form to register is still accessible online. It asks students: “Do you identify as a member or ally of the LGBTQIA+ community?” The form then asks in a later question: “What is the preferred name you would like to be listed on your certificate? Please also let us know your gender identity and/or honorific to acknowledge you.”

The school district held a “Lavender Graduation.”
A “Lavender Graduation” is for LGBTQ students.
The form for the “Lavender Graduation” asks if students identify as part of the “LGBTQIA+ community.”