February 24, 2017

Happy Friday NVC Community,

I hope this finds you all well!  I wanted to take a moment to share some information and reaffirm values that cut across our State, our California Community College System, and our own College in creating and maintaining an inclusive environment.  We want to share a clear message to our Transgender community members that you are welcome here and you are loved.   

In the past few years, the Department of Justice/Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and the US Department of Education/Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has provided guidance to workplace and educational law regarding sex discrimination and its impact on Transgender individuals.   This guidance has been provided to help employers (OAG 12/15/2014), and for colleges and universities.  This guidance is related to both the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and its Educational Amendments in 1972.  

Last May (5/13/2016) OCR provided guidance to schools regarding equal access to educational programs and activities, and to “ensure that transgender students enjoy a supportive and nondiscriminatory school environment.”  This guidance specifically noted that ”transgender students must be allowed to participate in such activities and access such facilities consistent with their gender identity” rather than only their birth sex.   

This past Wednesday (2/22/2017), OCR has decided to “withdraw and rescind” these guidelines. Please note that OCR continues to affirm that “[a]ll schools must ensure that all students including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment.”  Despite this, OCR’s latest guidance may put transgender students in other states in an uncomfortable position, nothing has changed here in California. For our Transgender community members, these protections remain in place and not affected by OCR’s action.

California Educational Code section 220 states that “[n]o person shall be subjected to discrimination on the basis of…gender, gender identity, gender expression…in any program or activity conducted by an educational institution”.  California Educational Code section 221.5 further notes that students be permitted to participate in school activities and use facilities “…consistent with his or her gender identity…”  This guidance was reaffirmed by our own California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office this past July (7/27/2016) and threatens revocation of Title 5 Funding for non compliance.  

Our values at Napa Valley College are clear:  we value, model and encourage inclusivity, respect for others, and health and wellness. We wish to maintain a positive campus environment where we can learn and work without apprehension or distraction in pursuit to our individual and collective goals.

All of our community members are welcome here, have access to all of our facilities (including restroom and locker rooms) consistent with their gender identity. Transgender community members must not be treated any differently than cisgender community members.

You all may know that there are several locations on our campus where there are gender inclusive bathrooms http://www.napavalley.edu/President/BIRT/Pages/InformationForLGBTStudentsAndStaff.aspx  

It is my hope that everyone in our NVC community is interested in creating a safe and supportive environment for everyone.

You are welcome here and you are loved.