(The Center Square) – Michigan’s local school districts establish their own policies on informing parents of a child’s gender choice.
States like New Jersey and California have been involved in legal disputes about if parents should be notified about a child’s gender choice.
Michigan’s State Board of Education adopted voluntary guidelines for local school districts that includes the following: “Privacy and Confidentiality Regarding Disclosures. A student’s transgender status, birth name, and sex assigned at birth are confidential information and considered personally identifiable information under FERPA. Schools should engage in reasonable and good faith efforts to protect students’ and their family’s privacy by not disclosing or requiring students or their parent/guardian to disclose PII to the school and/or school community. Such disclosures may be harmful, infringe upon the privacy of students and their families, and may possibly violate FERPA or constitutional privacy protections.”
Michigan Department of Education Spokesman Martin Ackley told The Center Square to their knowledge, there is nothing in the state law that addresses the specific issue.
“Such decisions are local district decisions and typically handled on a case-by-case basis,” Ackley said.
Ann Arbor Public Schools does not require parental notification of a student’s transition or using different pronouns.
“Transgender and gender nonconforming students have the right to discuss and express their gender identity and expression openly and to decide when, with whom and what private information to share. The fact a student chooses to use a different name, to transition at school or to disclose their transgender status to staff or other students does not authorize school staff to disclose a student’s personally identifiable or medical information,” Board Policy 5011 reads. “When contacting the parent or guardian of a transgender or gender nonconforming student, school staff should use the student’s legal name and the pronoun corresponding to the student’s gender assigned at birth unless the student, parent or guardian have specified otherwise.”
Andrew Cluley, Ann Arbor Public School’s communications director, told The Center Square the policy is in use and meets “legal requirements”.
Just 5 miles away, Dexter Community Schools lacks a written policy on parental notification of a student’s transition or using different pronouns.
“There is no written policy,” Christopher Timmis, Dexter Community Schools’ superintendent, wrote in an email to The Center Square. The district has non-discrimination policies that reference gender and gender identity.
Saline Area Schools did not respond in time for publication.