ST. PAUL, Minn. - A St. Paul public charter school will be developing and revising several gender inclusion guidelines as part of a complaint settlement.
Before the 2015-2016 school year started at Nova Classical Academy, David and Hannah Edwards say they informed the school that their kindergartener was gender non-conforming. They also offered to work with the school on gender inclusivity policies and asked that Nova protect their child from gender-based harassment.
In November 2015, the Edwards formally requested that the school adopt a gender inclusion policy.
In January 2016, the Edwards reported their child was being bullied for wearing pink shoes and choosing to wear the school's girl uniform. That month, the school board agreed that there was a need for a policy and then created a task force to recommend one for board approval.
The Edwards filed a charge of discrimination with the city of St. Paul. In June, the St. Paul Department of Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity found probable cause that the school violated the city’s human-rights ordinance.
Gender Justice, one of the handful of organizations supporting the Edwards family and their fight for non-gender conforming people, announced Monday a settlement had been reached.
“This is one of the most important trans rights cases so far in Minnesota,” David Edwards told Gender Justice. “Our experience shows – from start to finish – what can happen if a school caters more to the parent community than to a child’s human rights. It’s easier and safer to have policies in place from the beginning than to adopt policies in the midst of an individual situation like Nova did, inviting publicity and controversy that led to harm to the community, to our family, and to their school.”
According to the terms of the agreement reached during a confidential mediation process, Nova Classical Academy will:
- Grant "access to ... that align with the student's gender identity."
- Not adopt any gender policy that allows parents to opt out of the requirements in the Gender Inclusion Policy based on religious or conscience objections.
- Direct students to use a student's chosen pronoun and name.
- Provide professional development for all staff on supporting gender diverse students.
- Not call parents' or guardians' attention to the policy or law allowing them to opt out of specific instruction regarding gender inclusion.
- Set clear expectations for respectful, non-discriminatory dialogue in Board meetings among other items.
- Remove gender categorization of clothing options to school uniform policy.
“These non-monetary victories are so important,” says Hannah Edwards told Gender Justice. “There were a lot of holes that needed to be filled. It feels good.”
The Edwards will receive $120,000. They also agree not to file a lawsuit against Nova.
The child, now seven years old and living as a transgender girl, attends a different school.