Today the New Jersey Department of Education issued guidelines affirming the rights of transgender, non-binary, and gender nonconforming students in public schools across the state.
Garden State Equality is proud to have been a part of this process from the beginning. We worked hard to get this legislation passed and we worked with the Department of Education and other stakeholders as part of a working group on transgender students.
The new guidelines affirm that under state and federal law students have the right to access restrooms and other gender-segregated facilities that match their gender identity. The guidelines also state:
- that school administrators, teachers and staff must use a student’s chosen name and pronouns in verbal, written, and electronic communications
- that schools must take a student-centered approach wherein gender identity determination rests with the student
- that parental consent is not required to affirm a student’s identity
- that students must be allowed to participate in intramural and interscholastic athletics in a manner consistent with their gender identity
Our friend Rebekah Bruesehoff, a transgender activist and 6th grader in Sussex County, NJ put it best:
“As a transgender student, I've been really lucky to have my school's support. It means I can focus on my classes, my friends, and playing field hockey. I know other trans kids aren't so lucky. These guidelines change that. As a transgender student and an activist, it makes a huge difference to know that the New Jersey Department of Education and Garden State Equality have our backs and are working to make schools safer for kids like me.” Rebekah Bruesehoff, 6th grader, Sussex County
We want to thank Assemblymembers Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Joann Downey, Mila Jasey, and Benjie Wimberly; former Assemlymembers Tim Eustace, Reed Gusciora and Marlene Caride; and Senators Teresa Ruiz and Joe Vitale for this bill. We also want to thank Commissioner Repollet and his team at the Department of Education; our friends at GLSEN Central NJ and the team at ACLU NJ, and all the other advocates, parents, educators and students who came out to share their stories and make NJ schools fairer and more equitable learning environments.