At the end of February, Trump rescinded rules put in place by the Obama administration allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice, regardless of the gender assigned to them at birth.
“We are dedicated to providing every student with a safe, supportive and inclusive learning environment. As part of that commitment, we want to ensure that all students receive the additional privacy they need and have access to a restroom that aligns with their gender identity.”
Single-stall toilets for all
This month, New York announced that starting in January 2018, every school would include at least one additional single-stall, gender neutral bathroom.
While all public, single-stall bathrooms in the city are already supposed to be gender neutral, this measure expands that obligation to schools. The measure will protect transgender and non-binary students, as well as students with medical concerns.
Single-stall bathrooms provide a safe space where students can go without needing permission or a medical note. The bathrooms will also include appropriate signage, safety locks and free menstrual hygiene products for students in grades 6-12.
Since last July, all New York schools with students in those grades are required to provide free menstrual pads and tampons for students.
To get started, each school must identify an “existing single-stall bathroom in their building that can be converted for student use.” Schools and parents will also receive information explaining privacy and safety rules, and “appropriate terminology for describing the restroom to students, staff and families.”
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A safe, supportive learning environment
This decision follows an update made in March to the Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Student Guidelines originally published in 2014. From now on, the guidelines provide:
“…guidance on supporting transgender or transitioning students, appropriate pronoun usage and updating personal and pupil records to reflect a student’s gender identity.”
The stress of having to choose between the men’s and women’s bathrooms, and being at risk of harassment or even violence, has led some students to not drink water during the day so they won’t have to go to the toilet.
As La Croix reports, in the United States, “three out of four transgender students say they feel threatened at school, over 40% have been physically assaulted, and more than half have skipped class to avoid bullying.”
With this measure, the city of New York wants to spread the message that “all students should feel safe and secure in our school buildings and feel comfortable with whatever privacy they need.”
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