Board of Trustees to consider transgender policy for school admissions

In spring 2015, the Dana Hall transgender task force crafted a proposal for an inclusive transgender policy that will “allow applications from anyone who lives life as and identifies as a girl.” The Board of Trustees will consider the proposal this fall.

There is no current policy requiring students to be biologically female, but that has always been the assumption since Dana Hall is a girls’ school. If the new policy is approved, the school would accept applications from students who have a female identity, whether or not they are born biologically female. Although the school has three male alumni who transitioned from female to male after receiving their high school diplomas, Dana Hall has yet to accept a female individual who has transitioned from being male prior to applying or to support a student who transitions while attending Dana.

According to Upper School Director Jessica Keimowitz, “the task force … recommends that Dana Hall continue to affirm its identity as a girls’ school” while accepting transgender students. The school would also support students who transition from female to male while in school, giving them the options of transferring to a co-ed school or remaining at Dana Hall, provided that they acknowledge that the school would still use female pronouns to describe the student body. Ms. Keimowitz says that “we want to continue to meet all students where they are on the journey of gender identity and expression.”

The transgender task-force also made two suggestions that have already been implemented. Single-stall bathrooms are now designated “all gender,” and the school’s employment policy now includes “gender identity” in its nondiscrimination statement.

Dana Hall is hiring a consultant to recommend methods of community education for the school, according to Ms. Keimowitz. This focus on education for the teachers, students, and parents at Dana Hall ensures “the start of the conversation [about transgender students] before it becomes a necessity,” as Ms. Keimowitz states, adding that “Dana must be as sensitive and accepting as possible to our future members of the Dana community.”

transgender symbol“The chance to be a part of the beginning of a school-wide transformation is something that I don’t think I would have been able to experience at any other school,” says Amanda Fontana ’16, a member of the transgender task force and co-head of BRIDGE, Dana Hall’s gender identity and sexuality club. “Dana has always been a progressive community and this task force is just another thing that makes Dana so special,” She further reflected, “The task force made us reevaluate what it means to be an all-girls school in today’s society.”

Ms. Keimowitz agrees, saying that “single-sex schools have a more crucial role than ever in supporting its gender minorities, especially all girls’ schools. Because Dana Hall was developed to support a gender minority — women — they must remain committed to aiding other gender minorities who are not given the same opportunities due to their gender. Dana Hall is an even more important place for transgender students in the future.” It is her hope that the expansion of ideas about gender identity will continue to enrich Dana with the diversity of its student body.

The task force was composed of Upper and Middle School faculty, alumnae, health staff, and students. The school is following the model of fellow women’s schools Wellesley College and the Winsor School, two institutions who have already implemented their own transgender policies.

Cover image: One version of a Transgender Pride Flag. Second image: A widely used symbol for transgender. Images source: Wikipedia.

Comments are closed.