Nation's Largest School District Adopts Transgender Guidelines

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We commend the New York City Department of Education, which runs the nation’s largest school district, for issuing guidelines on how to meet the needs of transgender students in New York City schools. But we also recommend that officials take further steps to ensure that transgender students have equal opportunity in school.

Under the new guidelines, schools are encouraged to use transgender students’ preferred names and gender pronouns wherever possible. Additionally, the guidelines state that transgender students should not be required to use a locker room or restroom that conflicts with their gender identity. The guidelines also assert that transgender students should be allowed to participate in most sports activities according to their gender identity. Plus, the district has included procedures for handling harassment against transgender students.

But the guidelines fail to take a clear position with respect to competitive and contact sports. And they do not clearly require schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and other sex-segregated facilities that match their gender identity.

“We are pleased to see the Department of Education issue guidelines that support transgender students in the New York City school system and applaud its commitment to take incidents of anti-transgender harassment seriously,” said TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman. “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.”

“In addition,” said Silverman “schools must allow transgender kids to play competitive sports just like all other students. The values of teamwork and fair play that school sports teach are important for everyone in school, including transgender students. Ensuring that transgender students can take part in their school environments as their authentic selves keeps them safe, builds their confidence, and helps them to succeed in school. School districts around the country are recognizing the importance of supporting transgender students. We’re happy to see New York City following suit, and would like to see its school system become an even better ally to transgender students.”

View the full NYC Department of Education Transgender Student Guidelines here: