Illinois Safe Schools Alliance ( ISSA ) is working on a transgender rights policy with Chicago Public Schools, according to its executive director.
The organization, which promotes safety, support and healthy development for LGBT students, is drafting a model policy with CPS "with the broader hopes that it would be implemented in school districts across the state," said Anthony Papini, ISSA's executive director.
ISSA promotes a platform that calls attention to a number of concerns for trans students, including the right to be out about the gender identity with which they identify; the right to access safe rest room and locker room facilities; the right to have their names and preferred pronouns respected; the right to privacy; and the right to access educational, competitive sport and extracurricular opportunities.
CPS officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the collaboration.
Because so few trans students are out, there is no data on how many such students attend Illinois schools, Papini noted. "The important issue to focus on is not the number of students who identify as transgender but to focus on making school policies, facilities, and curriculum safe and inclusive of transgender identities."
But he said ISSA does regularly receive requests to assist students who need help, noting, "In the month that I have been ED of the Alliance, not a week has gone by that we have not received one or more calls from parents, counselors, teachers or transgender youth themselves asking for support and resources to ensure their school is a safe place for them, whether that be a single user restroom or changing facility or working with schools to ensure a student is addressed by their correct name and pronoun. I think we can all agree that level of respect should be afforded to everyone."
The overall goal, according to Papini, is helping trans students to feel like they are a contributing and vibrant part of the school community.
"We have had a long working partnership with CPS and have worked with them on past policies that promote educational justice and LGBT inclusion," he said. "…We are happy to work with school districts, including CPS, to ensure all students feel safe and supported in their schools."