NEW YORK CITY, March 11, 2014 (LifeSiteNews.com) – In new guidelines to schools on transgendered students, the nation's largest school district has said children among its more than one million students may end up sleeping in the same hotel rooms as members of the opposite sex, and use the same locker rooms and restrooms.
In a new set of guidelines that closely matches those seen in the state of California, the New York City Department of Education (DoE) has published new guidelines on how school administrators should treat transgendered students.
Among the guidelines are those related to locker rooms, “overnight field trips,” and sports. “Transgender students are to be provided the same opportunities to participate in physical education as are all other students,” the guidelines state, and “generally, students should be permitted to participate ... in accordance with the student’s gender identity that is consistently asserted at school.”
The guidelines say actually playing “competitive athletic activities and contact sports” will be dealt with as needed.
For locker room and restroom use, the guidelines state that the DoE wants to “support” transgendered students while simultaneously “ensuring the safety and comfort of all students.” Among the factors to be considered are “maximizing social interaction for the transgendered student” and “minimizing stigmatization of the student.” The safety of “students involved” is also to be considered.
Schools have also been told to provide transgendered students with alternate arrangements if a student wants “increased privacy." These “may include the use of a private area, or a separate changing schedule, or use of a single stall restroom,” and are intended to allow the student to keep his or her transgendered status private.
Importantly, the guidelines state that “a transgender student should not be required to use a locker room or restroom that conflicts with the student’s gender identity.”
The school's guidelines also address “segregation in other areas.” School administrators are to allow students “to participate in accordance with their gender identity consistently asserted at school” during times when students are separated by gender.
The guidelines provide a single example of such “areas,” that of “overnight field trips.” They also acknowledge that “the need for accommodation to address student privacy concerns” are to be taken care of “on a case-by-case basis.”
DoE spokesperson Marge Feinberg says they do not know how many of New York City's students are transgendered. “We do not identify by preferences. We identify students according to state regulations based on race," she told LifeSiteNews.
A research brief published in April 2011 from The Williams Institute in the UCLA School of Law estimated almost one-third of one percent of Americans are transgendered.
Feinberg refused to answer whether the Chancellor of the city's education system, or other officials – such as those on the City Council – are concerned about the potential for safety issues related to “overnight field trips” or locker room use by transgendered students, as set out in the guidelines.
The guidelines are very similar to those enacted this year in California. They were challenged by citizen activists, who wanted the related law brought to a ballot vote later this year. The effort fell short of the required number of valid signatures.
One female student in California who identifies as male recently claimed she was assaulted by three male students in a restroom, but later admitted the story was false. While the student could be charged with filing a false police report, a spokesperson for the student's school district said district “recognize[s] that life is complicated, and at the end of the day this is a request for help.”
Fox News reported officials “are less concerned with punishing the student,” instead focusing on “making sure [she]...gets the support...to feel safe and comfortable."
Chancellor Carmen Fariña