NAfME Opposes Rescinding of Transgender Guidelines for Schools

Mike Lawson • News • February 24, 2017

The National Association for Music Education’s (NAfME) CEO and Executive Director Mike Blakeslee and President Denese Odegaard released the following statement expressing NAfME’s opposition to the Trump Administration’s rescinding of Title IX guidelines regarding transgender students. 

The National Association for Music Education (NAfME) strongly opposes the Trump Administration’s rescinding of Title IX guidelines regarding transgender students, which were issued last year by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

NAfME’s mission is to advance music education by promoting the understanding and making of music by all. We believe that removing these guidelines impedes that mission by potentially making it more difficult for transgender students to receive a quality well-rounded education, including music.

First and foremost, these guidelines affirmed that schools have the responsibility to provide a safe, inclusive, and nondiscriminatory environment for all students, including transgender students. The guidelines required schools to act promptly to end any harassment toward transgender students, and required schools to take steps to prevent its recurrence or be subject to violation of Title IX.

Another area of benefit for the music education community was the Housing and Overnight Accommodations section of the guidance. This section affirmed that a school must allow transgender students access to housing consistent with their gender identity, and does not require transgender students to stay in single-occupancy accommodations, or to disclose personal information when not required of other students. Students and music educators frequently travel for performances where they require overnight stay, and this directive helped educators know how to maintain a nondiscriminatory environment for transgender students, even while on the road.

NAfME also believes the ED’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education’s issuance of Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students was helpful in identifying best practices and providing concrete examples, particularly for transgender students in the beginning of their transition. Music educators, as well as all educators, have an obligation to understand how to create the safest and most effective environment so that their students can achieve the highest degree of learning possible. These practices served as a guide to meet this goal.

We understand that rescinding guidance does not repeal current statues related to Title IX. However, this guidance provided clarity that protection from discrimination of transgender students is well within the purview of Title IX.

As these guidelines had been issued in efforts to protect civil rights, we support the federal government’s attempt to provide guidance aimed at assisting educators and administrators in providing a high-quality, well-rounded education, which can only be achieved by upholding a safe and inclusive environment for all students.

For over 50 years, the Civil Rights Act and federal education policy have worked hand in hand to aid in the delivery of a high quality education for all without fear of discrimination. NAfME believes rescinding these guidelines is in direct opposition to those ideals.

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