New York City adopts trans-inclusive student guidelines

The policies are largely recommended guidelines, but a step forward for trans students' rights, advocates say

Published March 10, 2014 8:09PM (EDT)

  (<a href=''>Kris Schmidt</a> via <a href=''>Shutterstock</a>)
(Kris Schmidt via Shutterstock)

The New York City Department of Education announced Monday new guidelines to better protect the rights of transgender students in the city's public school system, the nation's largest school district.

As Parker Marie Molloy at the Advocate reports, the guidelines encourage schools to use a student's chosen name and pronouns, including on student identification. The new policy also recommends that schools allow students to use restrooms and other facilities that correspond to their gender identity and expression or help facilitate access to accommodations based on the privacy needs and preferences of the student.

In other activities, including overnight trips that are segregated based on gender, schools are encouraged to allow students to participate in accordance with their gender identity or expression. Trans students who want to participate in school sports will have their requests addressed on a "case by case basis," according to the guidelines.

The new guidelines do not go as far as the state-wide student protections passed into law by California legislators last year, but are being celebrated by activists as a step forward for trans students' rights.

"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," Michael Silverman, executive director of the Transgender Legal Defense and Education Fund said in a press release.

"This is a big step in the right direction, but transgender kids face unique challenges in schol 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 identities. Anything less stigmatizies them as the only boys and girls who are forced to use separate facilities."


By Katie McDonough

Katie McDonough is Salon's politics writer, focusing on gender, sexuality and reproductive justice. Follow her on Twitter @kmcdonovgh or email her at

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