University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Department of Education investigation of Downey Unified School District ED-CA-0022
Docket / Court 09-12-1095 ( No Court )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Education
Case Summary
In November 2011, a transgender middle school student filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights against Downey Unified School District. The complainant, who was assigned male at birth, but identified as female, sought to be treated as a girl for the rest of ... read more >
In November 2011, a transgender middle school student filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights against Downey Unified School District. The complainant, who was assigned male at birth, but identified as female, sought to be treated as a girl for the rest of middle school and throughout high school, claiming that the treatment she had received in elementary school violated Title IX. Specifically, the plaintiff claimed that in elementary school, makeup was confiscated from her and she was forced to write her male classmates an apology letter. She was excluded from group counselling sessions because the elementary school did not want her to discuss her gender identity with other students. She was harassed by other students, who were not disciplined for that harassment. When she transitioned to presenting as a girl, some school staff were unsupportive and refused to call her by her female name. The complainant went to a different middle school, where the administration was supportive but she was still harassed by other students.

On October 8, 2014, the school district signed an agreement with OCR. In addition to ensuring that the complainant is treated the same as other girls, the district agreed to train school staff on issues pertaining to gender identity, incorporate age-appropriate material on gender identity into the school curriculum, review its sexual harassment and disciplinary policies to ensure that they are gender neutral, administer climate surveys to all middle and high school students on the effectiveness of the school's bullying prevention measures, and hire a consultant to oversee the implementation of the agreement.

On October 14, 2014, OCR released a letter of findings reaffirming that, in accordance with Title IX, the complainant must be treated like a girl through the rest of middle and high school, including using girls' restrooms and locker rooms and being allowed to play on girls' athletic teams.

Katherine Reineck - 11/15/2015


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Affected Gender
Female
Content of Injunction
Develop anti-discrimination policy
Implement complaint/dispute resolution process
Monitoring
Recordkeeping
Defendant-type
Elementary/Secondary School
Discrimination-basis
Gender identity
Sex discrimination
General
Assault/abuse by residents/inmates/students
Failure to discipline
Gay/lesbian/transgender
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et seq.
Defendant(s) Downey Unified School District
Plaintiff Description U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, on behalf of a transgender middle school student who wanted to be treated as a girl by her school district through the rest of middle school and high school
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Settlement
Form of Settlement Private Settlement Agreement
Order Duration 2014 - n/a
Case Closing Year n/a
Case Ongoing Yes
Additional Resources
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Case Studies Courts and Kids: Pursuing Educational Equity Through the State Courts
By: Michael Rebell (Columbia University, and Campaign for Educational Equity)
Citation: (University of Chicago Press, 2009)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Links Dear Colleague Letter: Athletic Activities Counted for Title IX Compliance
http://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ocr/index.html
Posted: Sep. 17, 2008
By: United States Department of Education—Office of Civil Rights (U.S. Department of Justice)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Docket(s)
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Resolution Agreement 10/08/2014
ED-CA-0022-0002.pdf | Detail
Letter of Findings 10/14/2014
ED-CA-0022-0001.pdf | Detail
Judges None on record
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Fox-Davis, Kendra (California)
ED-CA-0022-0001 | ED-CA-0022-0002
Guinto, Gloria (California)
ED-CA-0022-0001 | ED-CA-0022-0002
Zeidman, Arthur (California)
ED-CA-0022-0001 | ED-CA-0022-0002
Defendant's Lawyers Mahan-Lamb, Nancy Ann (California)
ED-CA-0022-0001 | ED-CA-0022-0002
Other Lawyers None on record

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