New York’s Department of Education has released basic guidelines for addressing and dealing with the needs of transgender students. The guide is subject to change for every student’s unique situation, but emphasizes a safe environment and shared understanding
Prominent is the discussion of definitions and chosen gender. The guideline officially defines the three terms “Gender identity,” transgender” and “gender expression.”
In regards to a students chosen gender, it will be the student’s choice on how they want to be addressed:
“Students should be addressed by school staff by the name and pronoun corresponding to their gender identity that is consistently asserted at school. Students are not required to obtain a court ordered name and/or gender change or to change their pupil personnel records as a prerequisite to being addressed by the name and pronoun that corresponds to their gender identity. To the extent possible and consistent with these guidelines, school personnel should make efforts to maintain the confidentiality of the student’s transgender status.”
The guide goes on to cover everything from dress code to gender segregation to the matter of a student who is currently “transitioning.” It is in the matters of physical activity, and rest and locker room segregation, in which some officials find fault. In a press release, director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund Michael Silverman called into question the unclear nature of these issues.
“This is a big step in the right direction, but transgender kids face unique challenges in school that require more. Officials need to ensure that transgender students have the same opportunities as all students that allow them to thrive. That means treating them as the boys and girls that they are, including letting them use bathrooms that match their true identities. Anything less stigmatizes them as the only boys and girls who are forced to use separate facilities.”
One thing is clear. The nation’s largest school district is starting to address the community and that is a big step in the right direction.