Transgender/Gender Nonconforming Students

In Illinois, both the ISBE rule and the Illinois Human Rights Act (775 ILCS 5/) prohibit schools from discriminating against students on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

Oakton complies with applicable state laws, which addresses the non-discrimination of transgender students.  In the application of the IHRA and other state or national laws and guidance, the college’s procedures are:

Gender Identity Consideration
Oakton Community College considers a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing the law.  

Gender Identity Based Harassment
Harassment based on gender identity, transgender status, or gender transition is a form of sexual harassment. Oakton will address such harassment to avoid the creation of a hostile environment which would result in a violation of applicable laws/guidance.

Gender Identity Recognition
Oakton will treat students in such a way that is consistent with their gender identity when they or their parent(s) or guardian(s) notify the college that they will assert a gender identity different from the previous representation or records.

Student Privacy
The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) permits disclosure of personally identifiable information from educational records to individual school personnel who are determined to have a legitimate educational interest in the information. However, if a student has disclosed his or her transgender status to some members of the college community, Oakton is not necessarily authorized to disclose that information to other college personnel. Inappropriate disclosure, or requiring the student or the parent to disclose, personally identifiable information to the college community or to individuals who do not have a legitimate educational interest in that information may violate FERPA and other applicable laws or guidance.

Directory Information
FERPA regulations permit the disclosure of appropriately designated directory information from a student’s education record. Directory information may include a student’s name, address, telephone number, date and place of birth, honors and awards, and dates of attendance. According to applicable laws/guidance, Oakton may not designate students’ sex, including transgender status, as directory information because doing so could be harmful or an invasion of privacy.

Student Medical Information
Oakton will not require a medical diagnosis or treatment as a condition for treating a student in conformity with his or her gender identity, and that requiring such documentation may violate applicable laws/guidance if it has the effect of limiting the student’s equal access to an educational program or activity. Notification by the student or the student’s parent or guardian, suffices, by itself, to trigger duties of the college.

Amendments to Educational Records
Oakton will update a transgender student’s records to reflect the gender identity and name change so as to help protect the privacy of the student and ensure that college personnel use the appropriate name and pronoun preferred by the student.  Applicable laws/guidance directs that Oakton respond to a request to amend information in an education record related to a student’s transgender status in conformity with its general practices for amending other students’ records.

Pronouns
Every student has the right to be addressed by a name and pronoun that corresponds to the student’s gender identity. To this end, a court-ordered name or gender change is not required, and the student need not change his or her official records. It is strongly recommended that the transgender or gender nonconforming students be privately asked at the beginning of the school year how they want to be addressed in class and other departments around the college.

Restrooms
Oakton provides separate restroom facilities on the basis of sex, and does not require a transgender student to use facilities that are inconsistent with his or her gender identity, or to use individual-user facilities if other students are not required to do so. The college also has eight gender neutral restrooms located at its Des Plaines Campus to include four restrooms on the first floor of the campus, rooms 1470, 1914, 1915, 1916, and four restrooms on the second floor, rooms 2914, 2915, 2916, and 2214.  The Skokie campus has one gender neutral restroom located on the building’s first floor, room A181.

Overnight Accommodations and Housing
The college allows a transgender student access to housing or overnight accommodations consistent with his or her gender identity, and may not require the transgender student to stay in a single-occupancy accommodation. The college also does not require a transgender student to disclose personal information which it does not require other students to provide.

Definitions
Gender identity: An individual’s internal sense of gender is their gender identity which may be different from or the same as the person’s sex assigned at birth.

Sex assigned at birth: The sex designation recorded on an infant’s birth certificate should such a record be provided at birth.

Transgender: Those individuals whose gender identity is different from the sex they were assigned at birth. A transgender male is someone who identifies as male but was assigned the sex of female at birth; a transgender female is someone who identifies as female but was assigned the sex of male at birth.

Gender transition: The process in which transgender individuals begin asserting the sex that corresponds to their gender identity instead of the sex they were assigned at birth. During gender transition, individuals begin to live and identify as the sex consistent with their gender identity and may dress differently, adopt a new name, and use pronouns consistent with their gender identity. Transgender individuals may undergo gender transition at any stage of their lives, and gender transition can happen swiftly or over a long duration of time.

Additional Information
When in doubt of how an individual is identifying, ask:

  • How would you like to be addressed?
  • My name is Bob. What is your name?

Tips for Instructors

  • Present a sign-in sheet asking for first and last name and ID (if necessary).  Use this list for roll call.
  • Call last names from the class roster instead of first names.
  • Include message in the syllabus encouraging students to privately meet with faculty to inform them of how they, as related to their first name and pronouns, want to be addressed in class and other departments around Oakton.