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Nashville all-girls school unveils new policy allowing ANYONE who identifies as female to enroll

An elite girls’ school in Nashville has unveiled a new policy that opens enrollments to transgender women.

Harpeth Hall sent a letter to parents on Tuesday stating that “any student who identifies as a girl can apply to our school” and that the institution supports gender identity.

The Tennessee prep school, which costs $33,000 a year, and which educated actress Reese Witherspoon and singer Amy Grant, claims there has been “no change” in the admissions application process that is “open to any female student.”

The school reiterated that its environment is focused on women and that the new policy provides students with a safe space to express their gender identity.

The policy comes a month after a new state law went into effect imposing severe penalties on public schools that allow trans athletes to participate in women’s sports.

Harpeth Hall’s memo didn’t address trans students participating in sports, but as a private school, it’s not necessarily bound by the newly passed law.

Harpeth Hall, an elite girls' school in Nashville that costs $33,000 annually, unveiled a new policy that opens enrollment to transgender women

Harpeth Hall, an elite girls’ school in Nashville that costs $33,000 annually, unveiled a new policy that opens enrollment to transgender women

1660184441 790 Nashville all girls school unveils new policy allowing ANYONE who identifies

1660184441 790 Nashville all girls school unveils new policy allowing ANYONE who identifies

Harpeth Hall sent a letter to parents on Tuesday stating that “any student who identifies as a girl can apply to our school” and that the institution supports gender identity

The school said its decision to open enrollment to all people who identify as female emphasizes the institution’s commitment to fostering an “inclusive educational environment.”

‘As the world evolves, so will our students. The concept of gender has expanded and deepened over time,” the letter to parents states.

‘The cultural dialogue on gender is evolving rapidly. At Harpeth Hall, we are inspired and guided by the mission of our girls’ school and work every day to fully and truly achieve our goal.”

The new policy came after the school board, faculty and the Board of Trustees’ Diversity, Equality and Inclusion Committee came together to better understand gender identity.

The team consulted with field experts, read educational articles on the topic and spoke with other girls’ schools before deciding to expand admissions policies.

1660184441 729 Nashville all girls school unveils new policy allowing ANYONE who identifies

1660184441 729 Nashville all girls school unveils new policy allowing ANYONE who identifies

The school said its decision to open enrollment to all people who identify as female highlights the institution’s commitment to fostering an “inclusive educational environment.”

The letter to parents contained brief guidelines on admission, but used open language and emphasized an individual basis for enrollment decisions.

“Harpeth Hall is a girls’ school,” the letter read. “The school culture is unique and distinct about girls, complete with the use of references to students as girls and young women and a collective use of feminine pronouns.”

The document went on to say that students join the school because the mission and the women-centric environment appeals to them.

In the case of non-binary students or those who use pronouns they/them, they will be addressed on an individual basis, the school said. Harpeth Hall would work individual families to meet the needs of students.

The policy also noted that a trans male student using he/him pronouns cannot be “served” by a girls’ school. The institution would work directly with those families to determine next steps.

“We see this recognition as the ultimate form of respect: an understanding that we support the individual and the student’s gender identity,” the statement reads about male transgender students at the school.

1660184441 830 Nashville all girls school unveils new policy allowing ANYONE who identifies

1660184441 830 Nashville all girls school unveils new policy allowing ANYONE who identifies

In the case of non-binary students or those who use pronouns they/them, they will be addressed on an individual basis, the school said. The policy also noted that a male trans student using he/him pronouns cannot be “served” by a girls’ school

The elite academic institution has a number of notable alumni, including actress Reese Witherspoon.  She is pictured speaking to students at Harpeth Hall on November 12, 2015

The elite academic institution has a number of notable alumni, including actress Reese Witherspoon.  She is pictured speaking to students at Harpeth Hall on November 12, 2015

Singer Amy Grant was also educated at the school.  She is pictured in March 2022

Singer Amy Grant was also educated at the school.  She is pictured in March 2022

The elite academic institution has a number of notable alumni, including actress Reese Witherspoon (left) and singer Amy Grant (right)

Jessica Bliss, director of marketing and communications at Harpeth Hall, said: the Tennessee the school’s statement “does not reflect a change in admissions policy.”

“We are and always have been an independent girls’ school,” Bliss explained. “There has been no change to Harpeth Hall’s admissions process, which is open to any female student.”

She said the policy provides students with a safe environment to express themselves

“We teach girls to respect each other and appreciate their differences,” Bliss said. Every girl is unique in her own way. Harpeth Hall fosters a community of kindness and belonging.”

News of the policy received mixed reactions online, with some Tennesseeers expressing outrage while others echoing the school’s claim that it supports all women.

‘I love my trans sisters in Harpeth Hall! Paw down always,” student Chloe tweeted. ‘Tram girls are young girls! They deserve the same education as the rest of us Harpeth Hall girls. I feel very empowered to have them by my side.’

1660184441 815 Nashville all girls school unveils new policy allowing ANYONE who identifies

1660184441 815 Nashville all girls school unveils new policy allowing ANYONE who identifies

1660184442 407 Nashville all girls school unveils new policy allowing ANYONE who identifies

1660184442 407 Nashville all girls school unveils new policy allowing ANYONE who identifies

1660184442 655 Nashville all girls school unveils new policy allowing ANYONE who identifies

1660184442 655 Nashville all girls school unveils new policy allowing ANYONE who identifies

1660184442 287 Nashville all girls school unveils new policy allowing ANYONE who identifies

1660184442 287 Nashville all girls school unveils new policy allowing ANYONE who identifies

News of the policy received mixed reactions online, with some Tennesseeers expressing outrage, while others echoing the school's claim that it supports all women.

News of the policy received mixed reactions online, with some Tennesseeers expressing outrage, while others echoing the school's claim that it supports all women.

News of the policy received mixed reactions online, with some Tennesseeers expressing outrage, while others echoing the school’s claim that it supports all women.

“Harpeth Hall has gone mad. Accept boys who identify as girls???!!!’ Brentwood resident Lara Moses Whitaker posted on Facebook.

“God, now my beloved Tennessee wakes up…” Kathy Pence Suddath tweeted, commenting on radio host Clay Travis’s apparently negative post about the policy.

Rachel Dean, a Harpeth Hall alumnus, responded to the Twitter thread, saying, “I’m proud to say I went to Harpeth Hall. I loathe this thread – so much hate!’

“Proud Harpeth Hall alum,” Melissa H repeated. “I wonder who this loser is and why he thinks his opinion of HH matters.”

Headmaster Jess Hill (pictured) has not yet commented on the policy

Headmaster Jess Hill (pictured) has not yet commented on the policy

Headmaster Jess Hill (pictured) has not yet commented on the policy

School principal Jess Hill has yet to comment on the policy, but her open letter on the school’s website, it promotes cultivating a school community that “encourages academic curiosity, fosters connection, and prepares girls to become purpose-driven young women ready to make a meaningful difference in the world around them.”

“At Harpeth Hall, girls learn to trust their opinions and respect the power of their voices,” she wrote. “They also learn to listen in order to learn and understand. Here all students are seen, heard and appreciated.

‘We don’t strive for perfection, but value progress. We encourage students to take healthy risks – even when they make mistakes – because that’s how we all learn best. We know that building trust and resilience go hand in hand with learning to lead ourselves and others.’

Last month a new state law came into effect banning transgender athletes from participating in girls’ sports.

The bill, which was signed by Republican government leader Bill Lee, went into effect on July 1 and adds severe penalties to public schools that violate the ban.

It is unclear whether Harpeth Hall will allow trans athletes to participate in its sports teams, as the school did not address that in its letter.

In addition, Tennessee has enacted legislation that would prevent trans women from participating in college sports teams consistent with their gender identities.

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