In a little-noticed development, the D.C. public school system earlier this year adopted a policy that will allow parents to select a category of “non-binary” rather than male or female when asked on school enrollment forms to indicate their child’s gender.
D.C. Public Schools spokesperson Shayne Wells said the school system’s interim chancellor, Amanda Alexander, finalized the policy over the summer as part of an annual effort initiated by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser to streamline and update D.C. government forms.
“We’re thankful for Mayor Bowser’s leadership in this area and proud that this enrollment form is one more step toward ensuring our schools are safe and inclusive for all students, staff and families,” Wells told the Washington Blade
The term “non-binary” is used to describe those who do not identify as male or female; the term is also sometimes used by transgender people.
According to the Washington Post, the Oregon Department of Education and the Minneapolis public schools appear to be the only other known school systems in the nation that have adopted a non-binary category on school enrollment forms.
“DCPS’ vision is that every student feels loved, challenged, and prepared to positively influence society and thrive in life,” interim D.C. schools chancellor Alexander said in a statement discussing the new school enrollment forms.
“We value the whole child at DCPS, and have worked diligently to ensure our schools are safe and inclusive for all students, staff, and families,” she said. “Whether through policies, programs, affinity groups, or our enrollment forms, DCPS is proud to be a leader in affirming, supporting, and welcoming LGBTQ students.”
Wells said parents will be able to begin using the revised school enrollment forms that provide the non-binary option beginning in April 2019, when the school enrollment process begins for the 2019 school year. Wells said that school year officially begins in August 2019.
The revised school enrollment form was approved about one year after the D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles in 2017 changed its gender identification policy on driver’s licenses to allow residents to designate on their licenses the category of “male,” “female,” or “X” as their gender.
The change in the D.C. school enrollment forms also comes at a time when President Donald Trump has said his administration has ended a policy established by President Obama in which the U.S. Department of Education directed the nation’s public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom, locker room and other school facilities consistent with their gender identity.
Over the strong objections of LGBT rights advocates, the Trump administration says the Education Department is calling on schools to recognize only the gender of students assigned at birth.