Elite Nashville girls school welcomes any student who identifies as female

Reese Witherspoon, Minnie Pearl and Amy Grant graduated from the school, which was established in 1865.

Updated: August 11, 2022 - 1:06pm

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Harpeth Hall, an elite school for girls in grades 5-12 in Nashville, Tenn., announced that "any student who identifies as a girl" is welcome to apply.

The school, which was founded in 1865, includes alumnae such as actress Reese Witherspoon, comedienne Minnie Pearl and Christian singer Amy Grant. Tuition for this upcoming school year is more than $32,000. 

In a handout titled "Gender Diversity Philosophy at Harpeth Hall," the school states: "As the world evolves, so do our students. The concept of gender has expanded and deepened over time."

The school states that faculty and the board of trustees convened to "discuss and more deeply understand gender diversity" and consulted experts and other girls schools.

The school adopted new guidelines for gender diversity, which state: "Any student who identifies as a girl may apply to our school. Students who join and remain at Harpeth Hall do so because our mission as a school for girls resonates with them." This means students who are biologically male but identify as girls are welcome at the school.

For girls who identify as nonbinary or use they/them pronouns, Harpeth Hall said it "approaches gender identity with understanding and open communication, rather than with shame or othering, and will provide a safe environment to partner with each student and family to consider the needs and requests of the student on an individual basis."

If a student decides to identify as a male or use he/him pronouns, Harpeth Hall said, "[W]e recognize that our school, being a girls school, may no longer be a place that serves that student well. We see this acknowledgment as the ultimate form of respect: an understanding that we support the individual and the student's gender identity. Harpeth Hall administration will work thoughtfully with the student and family to evaluate next steps."

The school concluded the handout: "The cultural dialogue around gender is evolving rapidly. At Harpeth Hall, we are inspired and guided by our girls school mission and work every day to live fully and truly into our purpose."

Gender diversity is not the only social justice initiative implemented at the school. Harpeth Hall says teachers are "grading for equity" and that "faculty members from all academic departments examine the best grading practices through the lens of diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging."