TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senator M. Teresa Ruiz and Senator Joseph Vitale requiring the Commissioner of Education to develop guidelines for school districts to protect transgender students was approved today by the Senate Education Committee.
“We must ensure that all of our students, regardless of their race, ethnicity, background, sexual preference or identity, are protected from discrimination,” said Senator Ruiz (D-Essex), chair of the Senate Education Committee. “All of our children deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and that means having the regulatory framework in place to be sure that our schools are safe places and have supportive environments for all students.”
“We have a responsibility to stand up for the students of New Jersey and we should do that by immediately putting in place protections for transgender students,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “New Jersey should be a leader in providing the kinds of policies that ensure that children are free from discrimination and harassment.”
Under the bill (S-3067), the guidelines are intended to provide direction for schools in addressing common issues concerning the needs of transgender students, and to assist schools in establishing policies and procedures that ensure a supportive and nondiscriminatory environment for transgender students.
Among other provisions, the guidelines would be required to include information and guidance regarding the following:
(1) definitions of terms relevant to an understanding of transgender issues;
(2) maintaining a safe and supportive learning environment free from discrimination and harassment;
(3) confidentiality and privacy concerns regarding a student’s transgender or transitioning status;
(4) procedures for the maintenance of official school records;
(5) use of the name and pronoun that corresponds to a student’s gender identity;
(6) issuance of school documentation such as student ID’s in the name that corresponds to a student’s gender identity, and permitting transgender students to dress in accordance with their gender identity;
(7) equal opportunities for participation in physical education;
(8) participation in gender-segregated school activities in accordance with a student’s gender identity;
(9) the use of restrooms and locker rooms;
(10) ensuring that school counselors are knowledgeable regarding issues and concerns relevant to transgender students; and
(11) permitting and supporting the formation of student clubs or programs regarding issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.
The committee approved the legislation by a vote of 3-1. It will next go to the Senate for consideration.