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New Jersey Passes Transgender Protection Laws

October 16th, 2018

New Jersey Department of Education sends guidelines to schools explaining how to follow 2017 protection laws for transgender students.

New Jersey Department of Education sends guidelines to schools explaining how to follow 2017 protection laws for transgender students.

Schools in New Jersey are about to become subject to a variety of protection laws designed to protect the rights of transgender students after the New Jersey Department of Education sent guidelines to schools explaining how to best follow a 2017 law that reinforces protections for its students. The state’s Department of Education is currently working closely with various stakeholders and the governor’s administration to finalize what guidance will be in place by 2018 to 2019. After a period of considerable struggle, these new protection laws represent a substantial step forward for the rights of students who identify as transgender.

The Contents of New Guidelines

These new regulations settle how schools should handle controversial issues related to bathrooms, names, and disclosure about student’s gender identity. This guidance comes at a time when many schools are uncertain about how to handle situations involving transgender students. Some of the guidelines that are established include the following:

  • All students must have access to a private or unisex bathroom facility
  • School districts must accept a student’s gender identity regardless of whether parental consent or notification is obtained
  • School districts must use a student’s preferred name and pronoun which involves printing the name on school documents and keeping records about the student’s birth name and gender in a separate confidential file
  • Students must be allowed to dress in a way that conforms to their gender identity
  • Students must be granted access to bathrooms, gym glasses, locker room, and other areas that match the student’s chosen gender identity

Previous New Jersey Transgender Law

In 2017, Governor Christie considered signing a law that is designed to replace federal guidance on transgender rights that were acknowledged by President Obama and later rescinded under the Trump administration. This law addressed many of the most challenging issues faced by transgender students, but was never signed. As a result, there not currently any federal rules regarding how to handle transgender students and the use of bathrooms.

Response to the New Protection Laws

After this recent legislation, New Jersey became the 11th state in the country to provide guidance on how transgender students should be treated. These protection laws will likely work towards creating a safe and successful environment for an increased number of students. Many groups including the Garden State Equality organization have hailed this measure as a substantial advancement in the rights of LGBTQ students. States have been left to determine whether they should create their own individual policies at the risk that these measures might one day be overridden by federal law.

Following the Development of Transgender Rights

In the last few years, there have been several highly covered issues concerning transgender individuals. Most noticeably, debate has occurred surrounding various “bathroom bills that keep transgender individuals out of bathrooms that do not match their biologically assigned sex.” Advocates have also spoken out that this regulation will likely create a more accepting environment that will lead other states to pass similar regulations. The Universal Life Church’s blog tracks the development of transgender rights each month and brings the news right here for our readers.

(image courtesy of Jeremy Bishop)

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