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Gender-Neutral Schools

Gender-Neutral Bathrooms in NJ Public Schools

What do the following New Jersey schools have in common?

North Arlington, Carlstadt, East Rutherford, West Windsor-Plainsboro, Cherry Hill & Moorestown-

These school districts are just some of the first in New Jersey to begin implementation of transgender student policies…

and the gender-neutral bathroom?

The New Jersey State Board of Education has mandated certain policies for all public school districts to observe concerning the topic of transgender students. Current federal and state laws, including the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination and the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights state that someone cannot be discriminated against based on their gender identity. However, the laws are very broad so the question becomes what is discrimination? In Carlstadt for example, a transgender student will not be required to use a bathroom or locker room that conflicts with his or her identity. Are New Jersey schools becoming gender-neutral?

To understand what this all means, let’s first define and take a look at some commonly accepted definitions:

Gender identity is defined as a student’s deeply held sense or psychological knowledge of their own gender, regardless of the gender they were assigned at birth.

Transgender describes students whose gender identity is different from their gender assigned at birth- male or female.

According to school officials from West Windsor-Plainsboro district, their policy states, “The responsibility for determining a student’s gender identity rests with the student or, in the case of young students who cannot advocate for themselves, with the parent.”

In Cherry Hill, Superintendent Dr. Joseph Meloche said the board is expected to approve a policy next month that allows transgender students to use a restroom consistent with their self-declared gender identity.  Or, a single-stall, “All-gender” restroom, should they choose.

“The gender-neutral bathrooms, anybody can use.  They are not for transgender students; they are not for any specific student.  They’re gender-neutral.  Anybody that wants to use them will be able to use them,” said Dr. Meloche.

Under the policy, the district would accept the student’s declaration of his or her gender identity, with a confirming letter from a parent.

These are only the first school districts in this new wave of transgender support here in New Jersey to begin putting policies into practice in our schools to protect transgender students from “discrimination”. You can be sure, as this movement picks up steam, more NJ schools will follow.

So, here is my question; if transgender Americans account for roughly (based on a survey from the Williams Institute) .3% of the population in public schools, who is standing up to protect the rights of the other 99.7% of students? The students who are victims of sexual assault, or the students who simply, feel extreme discomfort sharing a locker room with another student of the opposite anatomical sex.

This issue is clearly not limited to New Jersey; the movement for transgender equality is nationwide, with the Human Rights Commission at the forefront. So here we find ourselves yet again, at the edge of a slippery slope. One that will soon intersect with Senate bill S283– which would allow transgender New Jerseyans to change the sex on their birth certificates.

Current New Jersey law requires medical proof that the person applying for an amended birth certificate has underwent a sex change operation. If S283 passes and becomes law, the surgical procedure will no longer be a requirement. Along with “gender-neutral” restrooms in NJ, we will be closely following S283- the bill was recently pulled from its scheduled hearing in the New Jersey Senate.

Below is the language from a section of the bill, S283.
*Note* The text in brackets has not been enacted and is intended to be deleted from S283. The underlined portions of text are new.

The State registrar shall issue the amended certificate of birth upon receipt of: (1) a certified copy of an order from a court of competent jurisdiction which indicates that the name of the person has been changed, if the person has changed his or her name; and (2) a [medical certificate from] form provided by the State registrar and completed by the person’s licensed [physician] health care provider which indicates [the sex of the person has been changed by surgical procedure] that the person has undergone clinically appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition, based on contemporary medical standards, or that the person has an intersex condition.

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