Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza today announced the most comprehensive and affirming Guidelines for Supporting Transgender and Gender Expansive Students for New York City schools to date, and the Department of Education’s first-ever Guidelines on Gender Inclusion. For the first time, students will be able to change their name and gender on school records with a parent or guardian’s permission, without legal documentation. Families will also be able to self-report their child’s gender upon enrolling in a DOE school.
The guidelines will take effect at the start of the 2019-20 school year and ensure that students’ identities are affirmed, respected, and supported in schools.
“Schools are safe havens for students to develop their passions and discover their true identities, and these new guidelines celebrate and affirm all students,” said Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza. “This Pride Month, I’m thrilled to send a clear message to our students—we celebrate you, we respect you, and we support you.”
“As transgender and non-binary communities come under increasing attack by the federal government, New York City leaders are making sure that our young people are safe, healthy and protected—and free to learn and grow in school settings,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “New York City is proud to be leading on policies that allow New Yorkers across the gender spectrum to be themselves in every single area of their lives, especially our schools.”
“New York City schools must be inclusive environments for all our students,” said City Council Speaker Corey Johnson. “With this updated policy, which allows students to change their name and gender on school records without legal documentation, we are signaling our support for all students regardless of gender identity. Students need to be accepted and supported regardless of gender identity. This policy does that. I thank Chancellor Carranza for his support of the LGBTQIA+ community,”
Beginning in the 2019-20 school year, with a parent/guardian’s permission, students will be able to change their gender marker and name on their permanent school records without legal documentation by submitting a signed Name and Gender Change Request Form to their schools’ pupil accounting secretary or principal’s designee. Permanent records include report cards, diplomas, and ATS enrollment data. The new form will be available to all students, including those who go by a shortened version of their name (e.g., Theodore who goes by Ted; Rose Ann who goes by Ann), or who have changed their name for social reasons. Schools will make the requested change upon receipt of the form.
Gender data collection for schools during enrollment is also changing. Instead of schools matching a student’s gender to the gender on their birth certificate, families will self-report their child’s gender.
The guidelines set forth protocols and describe best practices for supporting transgender and gender expansive students, and for fostering an understanding of gender identity and expression within school communities.
Revisions to the guidelines include:
- Records Change: Students who have not obtained a legal name change or do not have government ID reflecting their new gender can change their name and gender in their permanent school records with a parent’s permission, or without their parent’s permission if they are 18 years of age or older, by submitting a signed Name and Gender Change Request Form.
- Gender Data Collection: Families can self-report their child’s gender upon enrollment, establishing a more inclusive process reflective of our students’ gender diversity. Previously, a student’s gender was recorded in accordance with the gender designation on their birth certificate.
- Sports and Physical Education: Transgender and gender expansive students must be given the same opportunities to participate in physical education as all other students. Generally, a student must be permitted to participate in physical education, intramural sports, and competitive athletic activities and contact sports in accordance with the gender identity they assert at school. Specific requirements apply to wrestling and mixed competition due to State regulations. Previously, decisions regarding participation in competitive athletic activities and contact sports were made on a case-by-case basis.
- Expanded terminology: The updated guidelines include expanded definitions of terms including “sexual orientation” and “transgender” consistent with best practices and applicable laws.
The first ever Guidelines on Gender Inclusion will help schools implement gender-inclusive curricula, programs, and practices that are consistent with the administration’s commitment to advancing equity now.
Noteworthy provisions in the guidelines include:
- Dress Codes: School dress codes must be consistent with Chancellor’s Regulation A-665, free of gender stereotypes and must be written, enforced, and applied equally to all students regardless of gender. For the first time, these new guidelines site specific school-based examples, including yearbook photos and graduation attire, to reinforce and clarify existing policy. Dress codes cannot prohibit students from maintaining or wearing hairstyles closely associated with their gender, race, ethnicity, religion, disability, or other protected identity. Superintendent and Borough Citywide Office staff will participate in trainings throughout the summer to ensure their schools’ dress codes are aligned with these guidelines.
- Health Class: Students may not be segregated by gender for health classes, including for the first time, for classes that deal primarily with human sexuality. These new guidelines additionally specify that puberty education classes must be inclusive and affirming to all genders, gender identities, and sexual orientations, and use gender-inclusive language throughout.
Ahead of the 2019-20 school year, there will be four trainings in July for superintendent and Borough Citywide Office staff, who will turnkey this information to schools. School staff will be equipped to implement gender-inclusive curricula, programs, activities and practices that will expand equity and access for all students. Additional trainings will be offered throughout the 2019-20 school year.
Aligned to these updated and new guidelines, the DOE recently submitted a definition of Culturally Responsive-Sustaining Education (CRSE) to the Panel for Educational Policy for approval. This definition will promote a key component of the Chancellor’s priorities – ensuring that the content, curriculum, and environment our students are immersed in, as well as their teachers’ practices, are culturally relevant. CRSE is a cultural view of learning and human development in which multiple forms of diversity, including gender and sexual orientation, are recognized, understood, and regarded as indispensable sources of knowledge for rigorous teaching and learning.
“I applaud Chancellor Carranza for working to make our schools safe, welcoming, and supportive for all students, regardless of their gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or gender expression. Far too many LGBTQ+ youth struggle with mental health issues, feelings of isolation, and bullying,” Council Member Mark Treyger, Chair of the Committee on Education, 47th District. “Allowing students to self-report their gender, and formally identify their preferred name on school records is a major step towards ensuring that all students are treated with respect during critical, formative years. Promulgating additional guidelines and supervision of school dress codes is progress towards addressing the trauma that can be unintentionally inflicted on girls, trans, and gender-nonconforming youth, particularly youth of color, by the uneven application and enforcement of dress codes.”
“We applaud Chancellor Carranza and leadership across the New York City Department of Education for announcing updates to the Transgender and Gender Expansive Student Guidelines, and the Guidelines on Gender Inclusion. Today’s announcement is an important step towards making schools safer for all young people,” said Joanne N. Smith, President & CEO of Girls for Gender Equity. “Since 2001, Girls for Gender Equity (GGE) has worked alongside young cisgender and transgender women and girls, and gender non-conforming/non-binary young people of color in New York City to ensure that they shape the systems that impact them and are able to live self-determined lives. For years we have encouraged the DOE to enact better policies that affirm the lived experiences of the 1.1 million students who attend our city’s schools – with attention to the unique experiences of young people who face disproportionate and often overlooked school discipline and harassment. We look forward to continuing to work with the DOE on developing equitable dress code policies that ensure that all young people are safe and seen in New York City schools.”