Q: Are teachers legally required to use student's preferred pronouns/name in a public high school?
I go to a high school in Carlsbad, CA. I want to identify as something else, but I don't want to be discriminated against for it. If I tell my teachers that I identify as something, and I want to be addressed by a different name, are my teachers legally required to use those preferred pronouns and name? If they use preferred pronouns for everyone else and not me, can they do that?
A: Compelling someone to use special pronouns or other words is likely unconstitutional. It is likely that most, if not all, people you ask will use the pronouns of your choice.
A: You might want to search the school website or speak to the local gay-straight alliance about what the school district's policy on pronouns.
In California, public schools are required to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for all students, regardless of their gender identity or expression. This includes allowing students to use facilities and participate in activities that align with their gender identity, and respecting their chosen name and pronouns.
In 2017, California passed the Gender Recognition Act, which allows individuals to self-identify their gender on official documents, including school records. This means that students have the right to use their preferred name and pronouns on school records, and to have those names and pronouns respected by school staff, including teachers.
Under California law, schools are also required to prevent and address discrimination and harassment based on gender identity and expression. This means that if a student is being discriminated against or harassed because of their gender identity or expression, the school must take appropriate steps to address the situation and protect the student.
If you want to be addressed by a different name and pronouns, it is recommended that you talk to your teachers and school administrators about your preferred name and pronouns. They are legally required to respect your chosen name and pronouns, and should take appropriate steps to ensure that you are not discriminated against or harassed because of your gender identity or expression.
If you experience discrimination or harassment based on your gender identity or expression, you should report it to a teacher, counselor, or other school staff member. They are required to take action to address the situation and protect you from further harm. If the school does not address the situation or take appropriate steps to protect you, you may want to consider seeking legal advice from an attorney who specializes in education law.
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