A Diverse Community
Friends Select School believes in the Quaker values of respect for all, simplicity, the peaceful resolution of conflict, and a constant search for truth. We seek to teach our students, in the words of George Fox, to “walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone.” We work to achieve balance between the needs of individuals and our community in an atmosphere of cooperation and concern for the betterment of all, seeking to extend our values beyond the school community.
We therefore acknowledge that the composition of our community, its students, families, faculty, and staff deeply influences the intellectual and communal life that all experience at the school. Our community is diverse in terms of gender, age, race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, belief system, family structure, and economic background. We strive to maintain a safe environment where every member of the community is respected and where multiple views are expressed.
We are also committed to a culture and a curriculum that encourage awareness of and empower response to global issues and events. As members of the community move beyond our walls, they therefore think critically, advocate for change, and take an active role in the building of a better world.
A Diverse Community
Our curriculum cultivates diversity in student interests. We’re not a school of artists, or athletes, or even science enthusiasts. Instead, artists are also biologists and experts on Chinese culture. Athletes are math champions and thoughtful contributors at Meeting for Worship. Science enthusiasts are team captains and stars in the school play. We encourage each student to explore unfamiliar subjects and discover new interests and abilities.
Guided by the Quaker belief that there is that of God in all persons, Friends Select School continuously reviews policies and procedures to balance the needs, safety, and health of the individual with the needs, safety, and health of the community. The guidelines set forth here are broad in nature and are meant to provide clarity for school employees, students, and families. This statement applies to students whose gender identity is emerging and also to those students whose gender identity has been consistently and sincerely asserted at school as part of their core identity. The school recognizes that gender identity can be fluid; this statement is an attempt to ensure school is a safe experience for all students. The school also notes that families are central to conversations concerning children, gender identity, harassment, and safety; the school intentionally partners with families. Friends Select School works closely with the student and family in devising an appropriate plan regarding the confidentiality of the student’s transgender status that works for both the student and the school. Privacy considerations may also vary with the age of the student. As specific situations arise, the school reserves the right to interpret these guidelines in light of individual circumstances.
The purpose of this statement is to guide an educational environment that is safe and free from discrimination, harassment and bullying for all students, regardless of gender identity, or gender expression. The tenets of this statement should be interpreted consistent with the goals of reducing the stigmatization of and improving the educational integration of transgender and gender nonconforming students, maintaining the privacy of all students, and fostering cultural competence and professional development for school staff. Furthermore, this statement supports healthy communication between educators and parents/guardians to further the successful educational development and well-being of every student.
This statement covers conduct that takes place in the school, on school property, at school-sponsored functions, activities, on school buses, and field trips. It also pertains to usage of electronic technology and electronic communication that occurs in the school, on school property, at school-sponsored functions and activities, on school buses, field trips, and on school computers, networks, forums, and mailing lists. It applies to the entire school community, including educators, school staff, and students, as well as parents and volunteers in their interactions with the school community. Additionally, this statement works in concert with other policies and protocols from the Handbooks for Middle and Upper School that protect individuals and the community. Families should refer to the handbooks for a wider view of student behavior guidelines and standards. From the Middle and Upper School handbook: “Any student whose actions tarnish the reputation of Friends Select School, jeopardize the safety, order and discipline, or social cohesion of the community, or whose behavior serves as a negative influence on the school or other students, regardless of where or when those actions occur, including on social media websites, may be subject to suspension or expulsion at the discretion of the administration.”
Discrimination, bullying, and harassment on the basis of gender identity or expression is prohibited at Friends Select School. It is the responsibility of all faculty and staff to ensure that all students, including transgender and gender nonconforming students, have a safe school environment. Any incident or complaint of discrimination, bullying, or harassment based on a person’s actual or perceived gender identity or expression is taken seriously and handled in the same manner as other discrimination, bullying, or harassment complaints, as provided by School policy and protocols. This response generally includes reporting the incident or complaint to the Head of School or designee, taking age and developmentally appropriate corrective action, and providing students and staff with appropriate resources.
Transgender and gender nonconforming youth use a number of words to describe their lives and gender experiences. To list just a few examples, students may refer to themselves as gender nonconforming, agendered, noncisgendered, trans, transsexual, transgender, male-to-female (MTF), female-to-male (FTM), bi-gender, two-spirit, trans man, trans woman, and a variety of other terms. Terminology and language describing transgender individuals can differ based on region, language, race or ethnicity, age, culture, and many other factors. Generally speaking, school staff and educators should inquire which terms students may prefer and avoid terms that make these students uncomfortable; a good general guideline is to employ those terms which the students use to describe themselves, so long as those terms themselves are not degrading or offensive to others.
School Documents, Names, and Pronouns
Every student has the right to be addressed by a name and pronouns that correspond to the student’s gender identity. Regardless of whether a transgender or gender nonconforming student has legally changed their name or gender, schools will allow such students to use a chosen name and gender pronouns that reflect their identity. It is recommended that school staff privately ask transgender or gender nonconforming students and their families how they want to be addressed in class and in the school’s communication with the student’s parents or guardians. The school will communicate with the family after becoming aware of the name change request and will use discretion regarding communicating home. Some transgender and gender nonconforming youth may request to use “he” or “she” pronouns, while others may feel most comfortable being addressed by gender-neutral pronouns such as “they” or “ze” or just referred to by their names (without pronouns). If the student has previously been known at school by a different name, the school administration will direct school personnel to use the student’s chosen name and appropriate pronouns. The school and the family will discuss whether the name change is a nickname or a permanent record name change request. For the latter, and to ensure consistency among administrators and staff, every effort will be made to update student education records (such as attendance reports, class rosters for substitutes, school IDs, transcripts, electronic records, etc.) with the student’s chosen name and appropriate gender markers. In some circumstances, school administrators may be specifically required by law to record a student’s name or gender as it appears on documents such as a current birth certificate. In those instances, school staff and administrators shall record this information in a separate, confidential file to avoid the inadvertent disclosure of the information. All records that are not specifically required by law to match government-issued documents shall be updated upon a student’s request, the school’s subsequent communication with the family, and a process which includes a review from the administration. (This section is informed by the School Records policy).
Friends Select School maintains separate bathrooms for male and female students. Transgender or gender nonconforming students may use the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity asserted at school. All bathrooms have stalls for privacy.
Students who desire increased privacy may use any of the following single stall, gender neutral restrooms, regardless of the underlying reason: (1) inside the health room; (1) in the administrative hallway; and (2) single stalls in 1700.
If a student desires increased privacy, regardless of the underlying reason, the administrator or designee will make every effort to provide the student with reasonable access to an alternative restroom such as a single-stall restroom. The use of such a single stall restroom will be a matter of choice for a student, and no student will be compelled to use such a restroom.
Students have the right to dress in accordance with their gender identity, within the constraints of the dress guidelines adopted by the school. At graduation, students can dress in white or dark (charcoal, navy blue, or black) dresses or suits.
Generally, physical education classes at Friends Select are co-educational; on the rare occasions when they are not, students may participate in physical education in accordance with the student’s gender identity that is consistently asserted at school.
Participation in competitive athletic activities and contact sports is resolved on a case-by-case basis. Friends School League (FSL) and Pennsylvania Independent Schools Athletic Association (PISAA) guidelines determines eligibility for individuals to participate in FSL and PISAA competitions.
Friends Select School maintains separate locker and shower rooms for male and female students. For physical education and athletics, transgender and gender nonconforming students may use the locker room that corresponds to their gender identity asserted at school.
If there is a request for increased privacy, any student will be provided access to a reasonable accommodation such as but limited to: (a) assignment of a student locker in near proximity to a coaches’ office or a supportive peer group; (b) use of a private area within the public area of the locker room facility (e.g., nearby restroom stall with a door or an area separated by a curtain); (c) use of a nearby private area (e.g., nearby restroom).
Other Gender-Based Activities, Rules, Policies and Practices
As a general matter, Friends Select School evaluates all traditionally gender-based activities, rules, policies, and practices — including classroom activities, school ceremonies, photos, and documents — and maintains only those that have a clear and sound pedagogical purpose. Students are permitted to participate in any such activities or conform to any such rule, policy, or practice consistent with their gender identity.
Much of this policy is drawn from the proposed model policy published by the Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network, which can be found in its entirety at http://www.glsen.org/sites/default/files/Trans_ModelPolicy_2014.pdf.