With classes online, district safeguards identities of transgender students

PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — While students are learning online from home due to the coronavirus pandemic, the School District of Philadelphia is working to allow them to hide their gender identities from their parents. 

Students’ names are displayed on Google Classroom screens — an issue for transgender students, who don't want their parents to know they're using a name at school that's different from their birth name. 

District policy allows students to keep their gender identity from their parents. 

At Thursday's school board meeting, board member Mallory Fix Lopez said students have better mental health when their chosen identities are used.

“This is something that has been eating at me since it has come to our understanding of what is going on,” she said.

Superintendent William Hite said the district is devising a workaround to allow students to change their names on the screen.

“We've solved a technical problem. Now, we're just trying to make sure we don't create an additional problem for a child who may not have wanted their parent to know that they're using a different name,” he said.

The district has been consulting with other school districts and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia to get recommendations on the best way to protect students’ identities.

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