Edmonton Public School District Chastised For Outing Trans Girl To Classmates

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maroke via Getty Images
maroke via Getty Images

A transgender Edmonton student's privacy was breached after teachers called her by her male birth name, according to a recent Alberta's privacy commissioner's office ruling.

Keri Ridley, an adjudicator for the office, ruled last week the Edmonton Public School District broke the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

School agreed to keep gender identity private

Before the girl began attending the school, which isn't identified in the ruling, she and her parents met with school officials.

She explained that she is transgender and has yet to change her birth name. She specified that she did not want her classmates to know that she is trans.

The ruling states "school officials agreed" and made a pledge to the student and her parents to keep the information private.

One of the accomodations the school agreed to was that during roll call, teachers would read out her chosen name instead of her birth name. However, her birth name would remain in the school's computer database.

Teachers outed student's name

On six different occasions, the school admitted in the report, teachers read the girl's birth name aloud during roll call — sometimes even displaying the name on a projector screen from the computer system.

"On one occasion a supply teacher loudly discussed with the [student] the process to have her name changed," the ruling noted.

Ridley ordered the school district to make reasonable arrangements to protect against the disclosure of students' personal information in future.

"This is a landmark ruling."

Last year, Alberta Education mandated all school districts draft a policy to protect LGBT students. The Edmonton district's draft policy is a good step toward protecting students, Ridley stated in her ruling.

Advocates say this unfortunate situation is proof of the importance of having such policies in place.

"I think it's a landmark ruling and a victory for transgender students across Alberta," University of Alberta professor Kris Wells told Metro News.

“Once you’ve been outed, you can’t go back,” Wells added, in an interview with the Edmonton Journal.

Marlene Hanson, the district's supervisor of diversity education, said the district is learning how to handle similar situations to protect transgender students' rights.

Hanson told CBC News, "We know that it was very frustrating and disappointing at the time. And certainly we regret that it happened and we acknowledged that to the family,"

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