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Transgender Equality Task Force
Because of a law we passed in 2018, New Jersey was the first state in the nation to have a Transgender Equality Task Force. Its mission: to study the legal and societal barriers to equality for transgender individuals in New Jersey and provide concrete policy prescriptions for the governor, legislature, and state agencies to enact.
After six months of deliberative work, community meetings, and significant research, the Task Force developed an innovative blueprint for advancing transgender equality in New Jersey.
Some of the recommendations included:
- Collection of SOGI Data: The Task Force recommended that the State begin to collect sexual orientation or gender identity data across state agencies.
- Training at State Agencies: The report recommends anti-discrimination training for state employees on how to serve transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming people, ensuring both compliance with the law and greater access to programs to services.
- Public Outreach: The Task Force recommends that certain state agencies engage in strategic outreach to transgender communities, including the creation and dissemination of “Know Your Rights” materials related to the Law Against Discrimination.
- Law Enforcement Guidelines: The Task Force urges the Attorney General’s Office to develop and issue guidelines ensuring respectful, non-discriminatory treatment of transgender people by all state law enforcement agencies.
Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal also announced three immediate steps in conjunction with the release of the report:
- LGBTQ Equality Directive: The AG’s office issued a new directive to define specific protocols that all law enforcement officers must follow to avoid engaging in impermissible harassment or discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.
- Public Awareness Campaign: The Division on Civil Rights launched a new, robust public awareness campaign to educate LGBTQ New Jerseyans—as well as businesses, employers, and landlords serving them—about their rights under the Law Against Discrimination.
- Juvenile Justice Commission: The new policy on LGBTQ juveniles updated existing policy and ensures that LGBTQ juveniles are treated fairly with regards to housing, facilities and programming, search restrictions, medical and mental health care, and confidentiality.
Garden State Equality has been working to design policy to achieve those recommendations, including:
- Mandating all-gender designation for single-stall restrooms in government facilities
- Developing an office of LGBTQ affairs within state government
- Creating an ongoing Commission on Transgender Equality
- Establishing statewide sexual orientation and gender identity data collection
Transgender Student Rights in New Jersey
Does NJ law protect transgender students?
Yes. The New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJ LAD) protects transgender students in NJ public schools. The New Jersey Division of Civil Rights provides clear information on this here. The law says that you cannot be discriminated against on the basis of gender identity or gender expression. Furthermore, under the law, schools are places of public accommodation, and transgender students must be permitted access to sex-segregated facilities such as restrooms and locker rooms on the basis of gender identity (Read more about Gender Identity and School Law in New Jersey).
What can I do if I am denied access to the bathroom or locker room that matches my gender identity?
If you are denied access to the bathroom or locker room that matches your gender identity, or are excluded from any educational opportunity or activity because you are transgender, please let us know! Garden State Equality is here to fight for you—just fill out this form and we’ll be in touch right away.
Can transgender students participate in school athletics?
Absolutely. The New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) oversees participation in interscholastic athletics for high school athletes. The organization’s policy on the participation of transgender students in high school sports can be found here.
What can I do if my school refuses to refer to me by the correct name and pronouns?
State and federal courts have found that refusal to refer to a transgender student by their correct name and pronouns constitutes sex discrimination under Title IX. This would also be considered discrimination on the basis of gender identity or gender expression under the NJ LAD. You do not need a legal name change in order for your school to refer to you by the correct name and pronouns. While your school will likely keep a permanent file with your legal name and sex assigned at birth (until you have completed the legal name change and sex marker change process) your school should put your correct name and sex/gender into the student information system (SIS). This will be done on a case-by-case basis to protect your privacy, with you, the student, having input on the process.
While inadvertent slips or honest mistakes in the use of names or pronouns may occur, staff or students intentionally and persistently refusing to respect a student’s gender identity by using the wrong name and gender pronoun is discriminatory. If your school refuses to refer to you by the correct name and pronouns, contact Garden State Equality by filling out this form. If you simply need an advocate to help you communicate this to the school, contact us.
Does Title IX still protect transgender students?
Yes. [More info to come.]
Why are policies that support transgender students important?
Transgender individuals make up approximately .7% of the U.S. population, meaning that in New Jersey, there are an estimated 13,962 transgender students in K-12 schools. We know from census data, as well as from our experiences working in NJ schools, that LGBTQ youth, including transgender youth, reside in every part of the state. Research shows that when transgender children and adolescents are supported by family and community, they do well, with levels of anxiety, depression, and suicidality matching their non-transgender peers. However, transgender youth frequently face persistent discrimination and this has a profoundly negative effect on their well being. Policies that support transgender students provide a roadmap that helps everyone involved, from school administrators and teachers to parents, community, and friends, to understand what the law is and what best practice is and to work together to support all students, including transgender students.
What resources exist for schools that want to support all students, including transgender students?
There are many resources out there to aid schools in supporting transgender students. Garden State Equality played a key role in drafting the New Jersey Department of Education’s transgender student guidance for school districts, and has also drafted a model policy on working with transgender students.
Resources for Parents
- LGBTQIA 101
- Transgender Students and Family Acceptance
- Transgender Students in Elementary School
- Transgender Students in Middle and High School
See more resources here.