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Welcome to New Jersey, known as the Garden State, and never has a moniker been more appropriate. New Jersey is teeming with beauty, home to more than seventy-five resort cities. With Atlantic City bringing in tourism, along with a myriad of picturesque beaches and the fabled Jersey Shore, there is always a ton to do in New Jersey. The state is known for its music and culture. Are you going to a club or restaurant? Are you visiting the beach?
Often this concern is unfounded because of the impact of puberty-delaying drugs and or hormones.
As in most situations, if the school board and administrators follow the law and act in the best interest of the student, all will be well, and all students and often their parents will learn a valuable lesson in diversity and tolerance.
So for example, in the opening hypothetical, the problem that many people have is that Jamie, because she was born with male genitalia and ased male at birth, will always be considered a boy. It is also important to point out that nationally there is not one reported case of the transgender student doing anything improper in the bathroom or locker room. No one reading this article decided they were a man or a woman, they just were. Likewise a transgender individual does not pick their gender identity any more than a cisgender person does.
However, the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletics Association NJSIAAwhich oversees a large segment of high school athletics in New Jersey, has developed a set of policies for allowing transgender athletes to participate in interscholastic athletics in accordance with their gender identity.
However, with someone who is transgender or gender non-conforming, the issue is not their sexual orientation, but their gender identity. They have advised the principal that James, their only child, is transgender.
This would be especially true if Jamie were in elementary school or middle school, where she would like to move through the school system with her transgender status relatively unknown. What both sexual orientation and gender identity do have in common is that neither is a choice. What policies should the board have in place to deal with such a request?
Gender identity and school law
Thus, a cogent argument can be made that in New Jersey, which allows for both statutory name change and common law name change change by consistent usageeven absent a court-ordered name change, a student by usage can change his or her name and then request pursuant to FERPA that their records be corrected.
It is not a lifestyle choice, you just are. No one wakes up one morning and decides it would be fun to be transgender. This article will provide a broad overview of what it means to be transgender or gender non-conforming, and how New Jersey law impacts the role of school administrators and school boards in addressing the issues presented by a transgender or gender non-conforming student.
For approximately Accordingly, when most people hear that someone claims their gender identity does not match their anatomy, it is a totally foreign concept, and they will assume that there must be something emotionally or mentally wrong with the person making the claim, or that they are simply making it up.
Your superintendent informs the board that the high school principal called. Another area that raises some concerns involves the participation of transgender students, generally transgender girls, in interscholastic athletics.
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Unfortunately, in the sports arena, the law is less clear than in other areas involving transgender individuals. These concerns generally arise out of fear that someone ased male at birth would have a physical, and thus, competitive, advantage over a cisgender female. Terminology By now most people have seen the acronym LGBT, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender. How do you approach a situation where a student wishes to socially transition?
Similarly, to the extent that Jamie wants to maintain her privacy and limit what information is disclosed, and to whom the information is disclosed, every effort must be made to protect her privacy. Lesbian, gay and bisexual all deal with sexual orientation.
Sexual orientation deals with who a person is physically attracted to. If they are treated with dignity and respect, and not as someone suffering from a delusion, the chances are things will go smoothly.
But for a transgender person, as it is for everyone, gender identity is real. What information do they want disseminated? Generally, all transgender or gender non-conforming students want is the freedom to express their gender in the manner consistent with who they are. Transitioning is the only known effective treatment currently available for those suffering with gender dysphoria. Interscholastic Athletics Another area that raises some concerns involves the participation of transgender students, generally transgender girls, in interscholastic athletics. No one asks to be transgender.
There are also more students, generally of high school age, who are considered gender non-conforming and do not accept that there is a gender binary — that is male and female — and refuse to express themselves in gender stereotypical ways. Nonetheless, while this may be a contentious issue, the law is clear — a student must be permitted to use the bathroom or locker room in accordance with his or her gender identity. It is the lack of knowledge of these fundamental concepts of gender identity that le to the misunderstandings encountered by transgender students in schools, and elsewhere, and impact their acceptance.
The hypothetical is made easier by the fact that both parents are in agreement and supportive of their child. They are transgender.
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It should also be pointed out that not every transgender person or gender non-conforming person wants to live in the gender opposite to what they were ased at birth. The principal said that Mary and John Jones, the parents of James Jones, a freshman at the high school, have just been in to see him. It is the same for a transgender person.
There is no question that the use of bathrooms and locker rooms give rise to the most contentious issues involving transgender students and transgender people in general. Jones know how hard the kids in high school can be, and they came to see the principal to make sure the transition goes smoothly.
This is not always the case, and the implications of non-cooperative parents, or parents divided on the issue, are beyond the scope of this article. By now most people have seen the acronym LGBT, which stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender.
What should the school do? The LAD specifically defines public schools as places of public accommodation covered under the statute.
Perhaps your school district has not faced this type of situation yet, but it is likely that you will in the near future. James has been seeing a therapist who has diagnosed James with gender dsyphoria.
Accordingly, the LAD not only prohibits discrimination against students based on their gender identity or expression, it mandates that students in public schools be permitted to use sex-segregated facilities, such as bathrooms and locker rooms, in accordance with their gender identity or expression.
If these steps are followed, the school environment will return to normal very quickly.
Not every transgender individual transitions in the same way. Be mindful that a transgender individual is entitled to protection under HIPAA and other privacy protections, so only that information that Jamie and her parents authorize should be disseminated.
And, for approximately. But the hypothetical is a good starting point — a meeting with the principal to discuss the issue, and then, the principal reaching out to the administration for guidance.
No one chooses to be gay or straight. We should all keep in mind that a transgender student wants to use the bathroom for the same reason as any other student — to go to the bathroom. James intends to start coming to school as Jamie the Monday after Thanksgiving. Importantly, the LAD specifically prohibits discrimination in places of public accommodation, and mandates that in sex- segregated public accommodations, such as bathrooms or locker rooms, a person must be allowed to use the facility consistent with their gender identity or expression.
Gender identity and sexual orientation are not the same thing. However, despite the grouping of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in one social community, an important distinction must be made between lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals and transgender individuals.