New Jersey Governor Chris Christie [official website] signed a bill [press release] into law on Friday directing New Jersey school boards to “addres[s] common issues concerning the needs of transgender and LGBTQ students, and to assist schools in establishing policies and procedures that ensure a supportive and nondiscriminatory environment for transgender students.” S-3067/A-4652 [text] directs the Commissioner of Education to follow eleven basic guidelines in ensuring transgender and LGBTQ students are ensured a school environment free of discrimination. Those guidelines, among others, include: 1) definitions of terms relevant to an understanding of transgender issues including gender identity, gender expression, and transgender person; 2) maintaining a safe and supportive learning environment free from discrimination and harassment; 3) confidentiality and privacy concerns, including ensuring that school personnel do not disclose information that may reveal a student’s transgender status except as allowed by law; 4) issuance of school documentation such as student IDs in the name that corresponds to a student’s gender identity; 5) permitting transgender students to dress in accordance with their gender identity; 6) participation in gender-segregated school activities in accordance with a student’s gender identity; and 7) use of restrooms and locker rooms, including not requiring a transgender student to use a restroom or locker room that conflicts with the student’s gender identity
The transgender community has faced significant legal changes and challenges in the last year. Last month, Oregon Governor Kate Brown [official website] signed a bill [JURIST report] that allows for transgender Oregonians to make updates to their birth certificates without publicly doing so through the court system. The same day, California senators approved a bill [text] in a 26-12 vote that will add a third gender option to state IDs for people who identify as non-binary. In May, the Texas Senate revived [JURIST report] a “bathroom bill” in a 1AM vote, which would require transgender citizens to use public restrooms that correspond to the sex identified on their birth certificates. In April, the US Department of Justice [official website] dropped [JURIST report] a federal lawsuit against the state of North Carolina over a bill requiring transgender people to use the public bathroom associated with their birth gender. In March, the US Supreme Court vacated [JURIST report] a lower court ruling in a case concerning transgender restroom policies following a move by the Trump administration to rescind guidelines requiring school districts to allow students to use the bathroom of their choice.