Press Release • March 9, 2021

Equality NC Applauds PowerSchool Update Defaulting To Students' Preferred Name for School Records

March 9, 2021

James Michael Nichols | Equality NC | | 919-213-0562

Equality NC Applauds PowerSchool Update Defaulting To Students' Preferred Name for School Records

The update follows an open letter from over 300 educators, parents, students and advocates calling on the NC Department of Public Instruction to make the change in order to support trans and gender-nonconforming students.

RALEIGH -- On Monday, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction announced a statewide update to the PowerSchool student information system which will provide "preferred name" fields populating student records. This change will take effect March during 19-21 for all North Carolina schools.

This is an important victory for transgender and gender-nonconforming students who experience a difficult time advocating for their chosen name to be reflected in school documents including class rosters, yearbook, bus rosters and lunch rosters. The update to PowerSchool creates a solution to transgender and gender-nonconforming students who may go by a name other than what is listed on their legal documentation.

Prior to virtual learning, many transgender students across the state worked with their schools through a Gender Support Plan to navigate using their chosen name. When classroom learning shifted to an exclusively virtual environment, many of these students were outed because PowerSchool populated legal name information onto virtual platforms like Google Classroom and Canvas. This outing and misgendering often lead to increased rates of dysphoria, cyberbullying and additional mental health outcomes.

Rebby Kern, Equality NC Director of Education Policy, said in a statement:

"We must have information systems which accurately reflect the names, gender identities and needs of our most vulnerable student populations without special request. We can no longer intentionally and unintentionally misgender, misname and cause harm to transgender, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming youth. This PowerSchool update is one small piece of the overall support necessary for transgender students to thrive and grow in their learning environments.

Kendra R. Johnson, Equality NC Executive Director, said in a statement:

"With the shift to virtual learning over the past year, we saw more clearly than ever the importance of having systems and processes that recognize the chosen names of trans and gender-nonconforming students. ENC is thrilled to see this update after a long year of advocating for a better solution. It is imperative that school districts and educators are made aware of these changes, the process to update records, and clear communication to students and families."

Equality North Carolina builds LGBTQ+ power through advocacy, education, and uplifting the stories of queer and trans North Carolinians in pursuit of racial and social justice.

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