CAMP Rehoboth Opposes Revisions to Regulation 225
Urges DOE to Rescind
CAMP Rehoboth has joined with Equality Delaware and Delaware ACLU to very strongly oppose the proposed revisions to Regulation 225, meant to protect Delaware students from discrimination in all educational programs and extracurricular activities, and to create a welcoming and inclusive environment for them. We strongly urge the Department of Education to rescind the revisions.
“It is clear that there are several reasons why we cannot support the proposed revisions it in its present state.” Murray Archibald, CAMP Rehoboth Executive Director explains, “The proposed revisions require permission from parents before a school will recognize a change in any protected characteristic—outing children from unsupportive homes. They delete the requirement that students are given the opportunity to participate in sports in a manner consistent with their gender identity. They eliminate the creation of a model policy meant to guide schools in shaping their own policies.”
“The recently announced revisions to Regulation 225 are misguided, dangerous, and run the risk of emboldening discrimination and violence against LGBTQ students,” said Mark Purpura, Board Member of Equality Delaware and CAMP Rehoboth.
“These changes were crafted without the input or knowledge of the very team that spent months carefully drafting a comprehensive regulation and run counter to the overwhelming consensus of educational and medical experts. Requiring schools to out LGBTQ students in order to affirm their basic dignity and rights does not serve or protect LGBTQ students. We urge the Delaware Department of Education and Governor Carney to revisit these harmful changes and stand up for Delaware’s most vulnerable students.”
Rabbi Beth Cohen, of CAMP Rehoboth’s Council of Elders adds, "Our work to ensure a safe and supportive school environment where all students can be themselves and thrive, is compromised by the revisions introduced in this regulation. We are deeply troubled by the removal of the policy guideline and the requirement for parental consent. We know that many LGBT students are not supported by their families and so they continue to hide who they are. Statistics have shown that suicide rates are higher for students who have to remain silent about themselves."
CAMP Rehoboth joins with Equality Delaware to strongly oppose the proposed revisions to the regulation for the following reasons:
FORCED OUTING OF STUDENTS
The proposed revisions include a requirement for schools to request permission from the parents of a student before a school will recognize a "change" in any protected characteristic of that student for any purpose.
The language used is confusing and can, and currently is, resulting in multiple interpretations. More importantly, the concept of requiring prior parental permission in order for a minor to be considered to fall within a class for which that student is protected against discrimination is completely antithetical to our nation's and State's anti-discrimination laws. Neither our Federal civil rights laws, our Federal Constitution, our State Constitution, nor our State anti-discrimination laws require prior parental permission for minors to be recognized as included within a class of individuals who are protected against discrimination. This represents a dangerous policy that applies not only to gender identity, but also to every other protected class under Regulation 225 -- including race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation and disability. If every student who "comes out" to a teacher or administrator as gay or lesbian is deemed to have "changed" their sexual orientation, requiring prior parental permission for that student to be recognized as gay or lesbian for anti-discrimination purposes, this proposed revision to Regulation 225 will literally undo a decade of advancements in protections against discrimination for gay and lesbian students in Delaware schools. Further, this provision is in direct conflict with constitutional safeguards, Federal civil rights laws, and State civil rights laws, and misleads schools to believe that applicable discrimination protections do not apply to students whose parents do not consent to their inclusion within a protected class.
EXTRA CURRICULAR ACTIVITIES
The proposed revisions also eliminate the clear requirement that students have the opportunity to participate in athletic programs that are consistent with their gender identity, and instead defer to DIAA regulations and policies. The DIAA regulations and policies on participation of transgender students in athletics are antiquated in respect of the documentation that is required to be provided to confirm gender transition and permit the DIAA Board to make decisions regarding the eligibility of only transgender athletes (and not others) for safety and competitiveness reasons based on a student's transgender status. We strongly oppose these proposed revisions to Regulation 225 without simultaneous corresponding updates to DIAA policies so that transgender students may participate in athletic programs free from discrimination.
NO MODEL POLICY
We also note that the Governor's memorandum to the Secretary of Education directed the Department of Education to produce a model policy that each school district and charter school can adopt, or tailor and adopt. The proposed revisions to the regulation eliminate the concept of a model policy, which we continue to believe is vitally important and required by the Governor's memorandum.
SENDS DANGEROUS MESSAGE
Most importantly, it is unfortunate and dangerous that the message that has been sent to our most vulnerable students—those whose families and schools do not support their very identity and are at a very high risk of suicide—is that Delaware schools will not safeguard their safety and well-being. To these students, our message is that we will not waiver in our fight to uphold the ideals of the Anti-Discrimination Development Team that crafted a regulation that balanced the interests of all constituencies while prohibiting the discriminatory treatment of students on the basis of protected characteristics. We are committed to speaking with students and parents statewide—including meeting with Gay/Straight Alliances at every single school -- to ensure that they understand the legal protections available to them under state and federal law.
We encourage all of our members, and all people who support nondiscrimination protections for students on the basis of any protected characteristic, to submit written comments opposing the dangerous and misguided proposed revisions to Regulation 225.
For further information please contact Murray Archibald at 302-227-5620.▼