MCPS creates nonbinary option for students in school registration

April 6, 2020

Students+no+longer+are+obligated+to+commit+to+a+decided+binary+gender+when+registering+for+school.

Graphic by Caroline Dinh

Students no longer are obligated to commit to a decided binary gender when registering for school.

Starting from the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, students attending schools in Montgomery County have been able to register in the school system as nonbinary. On the official school registration form, students can mark their gender as “X,” which represents unspecified. The District, Alexandria City, and Arlington County have all made similar changes to their registration forms as well.

Although changes were made to the registration form, the Montgomery County Board of Education and MCPS administrators currently do not actively track the number of nonbinary students in schools, and do not plan on doing so in the future. According to MCPS Chief Communications Officer Derek Turner, the change was made to create a welcoming environment in public schools.

“Safety can look like a lot of things,” Turner told District Administration. “Safety means telling students that they’re valued members of the community, and their backgrounds are valued.” 

However, some students believe that this change isn’t doing enough for nonbinary students in MCPS. “While it is a step in the right direction, I believe in general we should take further action on this,” sophomore Elizabeth Mai said. “While it’s true that it promotes feelings of acceptance when one fills it out on a form, it’s still just on a paper and that goes into the system. It doesn’t really represent something that changes in our society itself. More action needs to be done to see more concrete changes.”

Organizations such as MoCo Pride – the county’s first LGBTQ+ student association – have been actively working towards supporting the nonbinary and LGBTQ+ community. MoCo Pride has been working closely with MCPS staff to create the county’s first comprehensive LGBTQ+ elective course for high school students. The course has received national attention as the first of its kind in the country.

“I think first of all it’s important to have that option for students to learn and experience LGBTQ+ history and culture,” Mai said. “Much like how they added the extra option on the form, having an LGBTQ+ elective and other options puts the [LGBTQ+] community more into the mainstream spotlight and draws attention to [LGBTQ+] campaigns in general.”

In the meantime, various school resources are available to students to create an inclusive community. “We have good support groups and clubs at our school that celebrate the LGBTQ+ community, and I think that our school is especially diverse and inclusive,” said sophomore treasurer Emma Chen. “I know that in SGA, the executive board has committees that actively try to reflect student issues and rights.”

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