January 15, 2016

New State Regulation on Accommodating a Transgender Individual’s Use of Gender-specific Facilities

By Chris Hirst, Denise Stiffarm, and Carlos Chavez

State law prohibits schools from discriminating against students or staff based on gender expression or identity. Consistent with that prohibition, effective December 26, 2015, the Washington Human Rights Commission adopted a new regulation requiring places of public accommodation, including schools, to allow transgender individuals to access the gender-specific facilities that are consistent with their gender expression or identity. This new regulation is consistent with prior informal guidance from the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (“OSPI”). Although this new regulation does not deviate from existing law and guidance, its adoption clarifies school districts obligations towards transgender individuals.

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