Last week, New York City public schools took a major stand for transgender students in announcing all educators and school staff are now required to address the city's transgender students using the pronouns they prefer.
According to the New York Daily News, this groundbreaking decision is part of updated guidelines issued by educators last week, which were the result of numerous meetings with more than 3,000 city educators, parents and students. The publication also notes that the entire memo on transgender kids released by the New York City Department of Education was 10 pages long — substantially longer than the single page of protections the DOE first published four years ago.
"It is important to note that for students who are gender-nonconforming or who do not prescribe to the gender binary, they may prefer gender-neutral pronouns such as 'they,' 'ze,' or other pronouns," the memo states.
In addition to the pronoun directive, the memo also includes advice on how to safeguard transgender students from bullying, and contains a glossary of appropriate terms relating to transgender and LGBTQ students that may be used in schools.
"It is important for school staff, students and parents to be aware that transgender and gender-nonconforming students may be at a higher risk for peer ostracism, victimization, and bullying because of bias and/or the possibility of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge about their lives," the memo continues.
These guidelines come at a turbulent time, as the current administration withdrew Obama-era protections for transgender students in public schools that let them use bathrooms and facilities corresponding with their gender identity back in February. Per CNN, at the time these protections were removed without a replacement "in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved."
Still, it should come as no surprise that New York City is among the locales looking to transgender students and allow them to be true to who they are, as this latest announcement is part of a much larger initiative that's been years in the making. As the NY Daily News points out, Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña hired the public schools' first LGBT community liaison, Jared Fox, in 2016. A year later, the city schools' first gender-equity coordinator, Kimberly Shannon, came on board.
Fox told the News that the new guidelines are about "a safe, supportive and inclusive learning environment," adding, "It's really hard to concentrate on English or math or social studies when you don't feel like you belong."
Elsewhere across the country, transgender children have been increasingly vocal — and successful — in taking a stand for their rights. Back in June, for example, a transgender student in Wisconsin, Ash Whitaker, won the right to use the bathroom of his choosing.
Cover image via lev radin / Shutterstock.com.