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04/04/2016

Legal vs. Preferred Student Names and Genders

Tags: Legal, Preferred, Name, Gender

At Aeries Software, the needs of our customers and their students have always been at the forefront of the development of our Student Information System.  In recent years, several states have amended existing laws to include prohibiting discrimination on the basis of gender identity.  For example, in 2013, California passed Assembly Bill 1266, which permitted transgender students to use school facilities and participate on organized sports teams that aligned with their gender identity, regardless of what was listed on their birth certificate and other records.  This bill also required schools to respect the desired identity of transgender students on campus.  For some districts, this became a challenge due to existing laws requiring the use of a student’s legal name and gender, as is the case when printing official transcripts, assertive discipline reports, or when submitting CALPADS reporting.

In order to help our clients comply with all federal and state laws, and most importantly, create a gender respective environment for every student, Aeries has modified existing name and gender fields on the student demographics page to reflect a student’s preferred name and gender while maintaining the ability to use a student’s legal name and gender where required by state and federal law.  Moreover, through security settings, only those users with valid permission settings will know that a student has a discrepancy between their preferred name/gender and legal name/gender.  Access to the legal names/gender fields and the ability for a user to enter this information is regulated by security access to the new "Student Legal Information" security area (Note: all Aeries "Admin" type accounts have access to all data in Aeries, including the new Student Legal Information). When a user has the appropriate security permissions, a "Show/Hide Legal Name" button becomes available near the bottom of the Student Demographics page, where it is not easily seen by passersby.  In all other instances, teachers, substitutes, or any other administrator, will only be able to see the student’s preferred name and gender, regardless of whether that is the legal name or preferred name and gender. 

Districts can now remain compliant with all state and federal laws, while respecting a student’s preferred name at the same time.  In situations where school staff or administrators are required by law to use or to report a student’s legal name or gender, such as for purposes of standardized testing or state reporting, school staff and administrators will not have to worry about mistakenly using the incorrect name.

Each student and each family have different concerns regarding privacy and confidentiality regarding a student’s gender identity in the school environment.   In this regard, it is important for districts to ensure privacy and share information with school staff only on a need-to-know basis. Moreover, from a legal perspective, these issues should be handled as one would a medical issue under a student’s right to privacy.  At Aeries Software, it is our goal to enable educators and administrators to focus their efforts on fostering an exceptional academic environment for all students while we provide a solution that can take care of the rest.

Documentation can be found at: http://www.aeries.com/Downloads/Docs.1234/Procedures/Legal_Student_Information.pdf

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