Midyear Meeting

Protect trans and gender nonconforming students from forced outing, ABA House urges

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The ABA House of Delegates on Monday passed a resolution aimed at protecting transgender and gender nonconforming students from forced outing policies. (Image from Shutterstock)

The ABA House of Delegates on Monday passed a resolution aimed at protecting transgender and gender nonconforming students from forced outing policies.

Resolution 508, presented at the ABA Midyear Meeting in Louisville, Kentucky, specifically addresses policies that mandate or authorize school personnel to notify the parents or guardians of students who disclose their transgender or gender nonconforming identity.

The resolution is intended to fight against forced outing policies seen as harmful to transgender and gender nonconforming students by creating a chilling effect and curtailing students’ free expression and exploration of their gender identity, according to the report accompanying the resolution.

Nathan Bruemmer of Florida, given permission to speak before the House, said the resolution protected students’ reasonable expectations of privacy.

“I strongly support this resolution as an educator, parent and attorney who is transgender,” Bruemmer said. “Simply put: Forced outing policies harm students and communities.”

Mary Kelly Persyn of California said transgender youths should have the option to safely living as their true selves at schools, without the concern over whether their parents will be told.

“Children must have autonomy and control related to their gender identity,” said Persyn, an attorney given permission to speak before the House.

Follow along with the ABA Journal’s coverage of the 2024 ABA Midyear Meeting here.

David Tenner, a delegate from the Colorado Bar Association, spoke against the resolution.

“This resolution is not about forced outing. This resolution is only about disclosure to parents and really about a student who is already out within the confines of the school,” Tenner said. “I think we should assume that parents love their child, will protect their child, will do what’s right by their child in almost every instance.”

An amendment to the resolution failed.

The resolution is in response to an increase in legislation in states throughout the country requiring schools to notify the parents of students with transgender and gender nonconforming identities of their gender status. In addition, school districts in states across the country are creating policies that require staff to notify parents if their child asks to be identified or treated as a gender that differs from the one listed on their birth certificate or other school records.

At the ABA Annual Meeting in August, the House of Delegates adopted two resolutions encouraging the protection of trans identities and urging the use of pronouns consistent with a person’s gender identity.

Resolution 508 was sponsored by the Section of Civil Rights and Social Justice, the Commission on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, the Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence, the Commission on Hispanic Legal Rights and Responsibilities and the Commission on Youth at Risk, among others.

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