New schools policy on transgender students gets a B+ from advocates

The Department of Education’s new policy on the treatment of transgender students received qualified applause Monday from the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund, a human rights organization dedicated to ending discrimination based on gender expression and identity.

“We’d give them a B-plus,” said its executive director Michael Silverman, who termed the policy, “a great first step. We can’t wait to see the city’s next step.”

The nation’s largest school district posted the new policy on its website on Feb. 21, and announced it at a City Council meeting, said a spokeswoman, but the development went largely unacknowledged until transgender advocates noticed it on the DOE website.

Silverman lauded the DOE for encouraging schools to use transgender students’ preferred names and not requiring kids to use locker rooms or bathrooms that conflict with their gender identity.

Procedures to handle the harassment of transgender students and the assertion that students should be allowed to participate in sports activities according to their gender identity also deserve commendation, he said.

But the guidelines “fail to take a clear position with respect to competitive and contact sports. And they do not clearly require schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and other sex-segregated facilities that match their gender identity,” the TLDEF said in a statement.

“We think they can do even more by adopting an even better set of guidelines,” and adding curriculum to help reduce discrimination and bullying, said Silverman.