A Wilmington (Ohio) College senior student-teaching at area Hillsboro High School was dismissed in January on his second day of placement. Recently, however, the Wilmington News Journal raised questions about the role of discrimination in that decision. The student-teacher believes he was dismissed because he is transgender, appearing and identifying as male though assigned a female sex at birth. School district officials cited vague concerns about a breach of ethics to explain the termination, having taken issue with the student-teacher’s decision to explain his identify to the class, as a means of putting questions and rumors to rest.
The article quotes a Department of Education spokesman explaining that Title IX’s prohibition on sex discrimination includes discrimination on the basis of gender nonconformity. It also notes that the EEOC, the federal agency that enforces Title VII, the law that prohibits sex and other forms of discrimination in the workplace, recently interpreted sex discrimination to include discrimination against transgender individuals. However, the student told the reporter that he is not planning to file a complaint against the school district. But even though it looks like the school district won’t be made to answer for this decision in court, the school district ought to take this opportunity to reexamine and recommit to its nondiscrimination policy, to avoid legal trouble in the future.