Rutherford latest NJ school district to approve transgender policy
Rutherford becomes the latest New Jersey school district to adopt a gender identity and expression policy.
The Board of Education voted unanimously on Monday to approve the policy, which would allow transgender students "access to the restroom or locker room that corresponds to the gender identity or expression that they consistently assert at school and no student shall be forced to accept an accommodation with which he/she disagrees."
They would also be allowed to participate in physical education classes but would defer to NJSIAA rules about participating in competitive sports.
Schools Superintendent Jack Hurley and school board president Kevin McLean told a parent that the policy was necessary to bring the district into compliance with state law and court decisions, according to the Bergen Record. Hurley said it would also provide staff and counselors with some guidelines rather than "flying by the seat of their pants."
The policy change comes amid a national discussion about the rights of transgender citizens. North Carolina and Mississippi are facing a backlash after the states' lawmakers and governors enacted laws that limit which public bathrooms transgender people can use. Those laws are backed by conservative groups, who argue that the policies are a risk to other people's privacy and safety.
In Rutherford, the transgender student would be allowed to dress in accordance with their "gender identity or expression," while students and staff would be directed to address that person by their gender identity name and pronoun.
The policy also includes a provision that encourages parent or guardian participation but protects the student's confidentiality.
"Prior to notification of any parent or guardian regarding the transition process, school staff should work closely with the student to assess the degree to which, if any, the parents/guardians will be involved in the process and must consider the health, well-being, and safety of the transitioning student."
A similar policy adopted by the nearby Pascack Regional High Scihool was met with objections during a meeting where many spoke for and against the policy.