RALEIGH — Public schools in North Carolina will switch from showing the legal name of students on most state records to the chosen name of the student.
Media outlets reported Monday that the change is drawing praise from supporters of transgender students.
North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction told school districts on Friday that its student information system will display a “preferred name” that will now be used on most records.
LGBTQ groups pushed for the change. They said that using the legal name harmed transgender students emotionally and put them at risk of being outed.
“It really protects the privacy of transgender students and respects their identity,” said Craig White, supportive schools coordinator at the Asheville-based Campaign for Southern Equality. “It respects who they are rather than misgendering or misidentifying them.”
A student’s chosen name will be used on most records. They include state reports, student report cards and teacher grade books. The only report that will display the legal name is official state student transcripts.
This update was to restore the prior functionality of what PowerSchool use to include, a DPI spokeswoman told Channel 9 in an email.
In the PowerSchool system, there was a place for the student’s “nickname” to be included but this feature was removed unbeknownst to the agency. The agency is putting the nickname field back in place.
It’s not replacing the ‘legal’ name field, it just allows for the nickname to be stored in addition to the legal name and allows for the nickname to be used on non-legal documents, DPI stated.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Catherine Truitt:
“PowerSchool used to have a field called ‘nickname’ for each student to list their preferred name like ‘Jon’ instead of ‘Johnathan’ but this functionality was removed by PowerSchool and the option hasn’t been available to schools for nearly two years.
“With this update to the system, we restored a previous feature available to schools statewide in allowing for both the student’s legal name and preferred name to be seen.
“So a student who goes by their middle name, perhaps has a double name, or goes by a shortened version of their full name can have their nickname included in documents like the teacher’s roster or in online settings like Google Meet.”
Cox Media Group