Safe and Equitable Access to Facilities
Students of Portland Public Schools have a right to access restrooms and locker rooms that align with their expressed/gender identity. Additionally, as of September 2021, all PPS students have a right to access free menstrual products in elementary, middle, and high schools. Learn more about these equitable access issues below.
Restroom and locker room access
In 2015, the United States Departments of Education and Justice stated:
Under Title IX, discrimination based on a person’s gender identity, a person’s transgender status, or a person’s nonconformity to sex stereotypes constitutes discrimination based on sex. As such, prohibiting a student from accessing the restrooms that matches his (her) gender identity is prohibited sex discrimination under Title IX. There is a public interest in ensuring that all students, including transgender students, have the opportunity to learn in an environment free of sex discrimination.
Oregon Department of Education's Guidance to School Districts: Creating a Safe and Supportive School Environment for Transgender Students Issued May 5, 2016 "...it is recommended that alternative accommodations, such as a single “unisex” bathroom or private changing space, should be made available to students who request them, but should not be forced upon students, or presented as the only option."
Portland Public Schools follows this ODE guidance through our Transgender, Nonbinary and Gender Diverse Students Administrative Directive 4.30.061-AD. It states that "school[s] [have] a duty to provide equal access to education, ensure student safety, and maximize social integration while minimizing stigmatization of the student." Our Administrative further states:
Students shall have access to a restroom that corresponds to their gender identity. Prohibiting a student from accessing the restrooms that correspond with a student’s gender identity is not allowed. If there is a need or desire for increased privacy and safety, regardless of the underlying purpose or cause, any student may be provided access to a reasonable alternative such as a single stall restroom. The option of a single stall restroom should not be forced upon or presented as the only option to transgender, nonbinary or gender-diverse students.
All-gender, single stall restrooms shall be available off a hallway or corridor, without barriers to use such as time-limited access, required keys, prior approval or long-distances to travel.
A student will not be required to use a locker room that is incongruent with the student’s gender identity. The school should work with the student to ensure the student has privacy, if so desired, within the locker room. Any student who has a need or desire for increased
privacy, regardless of the underlying reasons, should be provided with a reasonable alternative changing area such as the option to use a private area (e.g., a nearby restroom stall with a door, or an area separated by a curtain) or with a separate changing schedule (e.g., using the locker room that corresponds to their gender identity before or after other students). Alternative changing spaces shall be available without barriers to use such as time-limited access, required keys or long-distances to travel.
Any PPS student who has been denied access to the restroom or locker room that aligns with their gender identity should contact the Program Manger for LGBTQ+ Supports. Alternatively, you may file a Title IX report to assist with getting access to the spaces that align with your identity.
Menstrual Dignity Act
In an effort to increase access to and understanding of menstrual products, the Oregon Legislature passed the Menstrual Dignity Act (House Bill 3294). ODE's At a Glance: Menstrual dignity for students states:
Menstrual Dignity for Students means that all menstruating students, regardless of gender, age, ability, socioeconomic status have the opportunity for safe, dignified self-care. This program offers an antidote to the common narratives that say menstruation is something deserving of embarrassment and shame.
The law requires all public elementary, middle, and high schools to provide free menstruation products in all restrooms for all menstruating students. This move to increase access to such products acknowledges that not all people who menstruate identify as girls/women. It also enables trans, nonbinary, two-spirit, and/or gender-diverse students access to these products in the spaces they occupy and normalizes what they are for those who do not need to use them.
PPS' goal is to have menstrual products in every restroom by the 2022-2023 school year. To learn more about the requirements and recommendations for districts for this Act, please read the Oregon Department of Education's Menstrual Dignity for Students Toolkit.