The New York State Education Department (NYSED) released new guidance for public schools, affirming students have full control over their gender and parents don’t need to know about it.
The 42-page document, titled “Creating a Safe, Supportive, and Affirming School Environment for Transgender and Gender Expansive Students,” covers topics such as gender transitions, family knowledge, pronouns, restroom rules and the process of a legal name change.
“School personnel’s acceptance of a student’s asserted gender identity should require no more than a statement from the student expressing their preference,” the guidelines state. “Schools do not require permission, letters from professionals, or other proof of gender identity.”
Schools should not require parental permission or notification for gender decisions, the guidelines say, and faculty and staff should not inform the parents unless requested by the student.
“Some TGE students have not talked to their families about their gender identity because of safety concerns or lack of acceptance and may begin their transition at school without parent/guardian knowledge,” the guidance claims. “Only the student knows whether it is safe to share their identity with caregivers, and schools should be mindful that some TGE students do not want or cannot have their parents/guardians know about their transgender status.”
Several teachers in districts across the nation have already sued over similar policies, claiming they infringe on their religious beliefs.
In California, two middle school teachers, Elizabeth Mirabella and Lori West, sued the Escondido Union School District and the California Board of Education claiming the new policy violated their religious liberties and free speech.
“Morally and religiously, they know that the complex issues of gender dysphoria and gender identity are not issues best left for children to figure out on their own, with no parental involvement whatsoever,” the lawsuit reads, according to Courthouse News Service.
According to NYSED’s new guidelines, each student may determine their name and pronouns, and staff are required to comply. Parents won’t be asked or notified.
“All students and staff should be addressed by the name and gender pronouns they have expressed. Students are not required to obtain parental/guardian consent or a court-ordered name and/or gender change before being addressed by their affirmed name and pronouns. All school staff members, including Bilingual Education and World Language instructors and students, should refer to students by their affirmed names and pronouns.”
The NYSED guidelines also instruct students about name changes on permanent records, deferring decisions about parental notification to a school’s legal counsel.
“Currently neither federal nor state law provides a clear rule for school districts to follow as to whether a school should change a minor student’s permanent educational records upon request by the TGE student,” the guidelines state. “Public schools should, therefore, consult with their legal counsel regarding their obligations and what policy the school district should adopt as to whether parental consent is necessary to change the limited records deemed to be permanent records (e.g., student transcripts).”
The guidelines also state all students are allowed to use “the restroom that aligns with their gender identity,” and schools shouldn’t force transgender students to use gender-neutral bathrooms, if available.
In Loudoun County, Virginia, a similar transgender bathroom policy may have led to the sexual assault of a female student by a male student in the girl’s bathroom. Loudoun County Superintendent Scott Ziegler was fired after a grand jury concluded he helped cover up the incident.