On July 21, 2017, Governor Christie signed Senate Bill 3067, which establishes new protections for transgender students and requires the Commissioner of Education to develop guidelines for school districts.
The legislation is intended to ensure that transgender students are protected from discrimination and have a safe learning environment. “All of our children deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and that means having the regulatory framework in place to be sure that our schools are safe places and have supportive environments for all students,” said State Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), who co-sponsored the bill.
Under SB 3067, the transgender student guidelines must include information and guidance regarding the following:
- Definitions of terms relevant to an understanding of transgender issues;
- Maintaining a safe and supportive learning environment free from discrimination and harassment;
- Confidentiality and privacy concerns regarding a student’s transgender or transitioning status;
- Procedures for the maintenance of official school records;
- Use of the name and pronoun that corresponds to a student’s gender identity;
- Issuance of school documentation such as student ID’s in the name that corresponds to a student’s gender identity, and permitting transgender students to dress in accordance with their gender identity;
- Equal opportunities for participation in physical education;
- Participation in gender-segregated school activities in accordance with a student’s gender identity;
- The 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, and providing reasonable alternative arrangements if needed to ensure a student’s safety and comfort;
- Ensuring that school counselors are knowledgeable regarding issues and concerns relevant to transgender students; and
- Permitting and supporting the formation of student clubs or programs regarding issues related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.
Pursuant to the enacted legislation, the Commissioner must periodically review the guidelines and update or modify them, as appropriate, in accordance with current State or federal laws and regulations concerning the rights of transgender students.
The bill also directs the Commissioner to provide school districts with guidance and resources regarding: (1) providing professional development opportunities to teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, bus drivers, coaches, and other school staff regarding issues and concerns relevant to LGBTQ students; and (2) making developmentally appropriate information about LGBTQ issues available in school facilities, which may include providing pamphlets or books in school libraries, counseling offices, and nurse’s offices.
For more information about the new transgender law or the legal issues involved, we encourage you to contact a member of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Government Law Group.