A week after President Trump’s administration withdrew federal guidelines for dealing with transgender students, New York City rolled in new ones that will force teachers to ask students what their preferred pro-nouns are, encouraging them to use neutral pronouns for everyone. These include gender-neutral pronouns that go beyond “he” and “she.”
The city, in 2014, already rolled in some new laws that require schools to document and use a students preferred name and gender pronouns on all official paperwork, as well as in the classroom. Schools also provide resources to help children who are transitioning, or questioning their sex. Transgender students are also allowed to use whatever locker rooms match their preferred gender.
Jared Fox, the NYC Department of Education’s LGBT liaison, says these guidelines were created on a needs basis, and will continually be updated as new issues arise.
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The city decided to expand its guidelines after hearing from students, families and staff who wanted stronger direction, said Jared Fox, the NYC Department of Education’s LGBT liaison. The new guidelines address not only transgender children, but all gender nonconforming students.
In many ways, this guidance is just a first draft. Fox says the department plans to continually update it based on the needs of students and teachers.
New York City’s move comes at a particularly fraught time for LGBTQ students nationwide. The Obama administration told schools in May 2016 to allow transgender students to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identities, but the Trump administration rescinded that guidance last week, calling it an example of federal overreach and arguing that such decisions should be made at the state and local level.
Fox said he is proud that New York City, home to the largest school district in the country, is dedicated to providing a safe learning environment for all students.
“I’m thankful for us to have a document that has the Department of Education logo on it, that says to young people, ‘Your identity matters, and who you are matters.’ That sends a really strong message,” Fox said.