TRENTON, February 23, 2017—The U.S. Departments of Justice and Education on February 22 issued a guidance document that rescinds the May 2016 federal guidance clarifying accommodations that should be considered for transgender students.
Essentially, the new federal guidance leaves the matter up to the states, while reaffirming that transgender students retain civil guarantees that have traditionally been provided under federal law.
In New Jersey, gender identify is protected by the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination, and is also addressed by case law decisions. Therefore, based on the requirements of existing state law, NJSBA anticipates that the latest federal guidance will have little to no legal impact here.
Last summer, a federal court decision put on hold the May 2016 guidance. Neither the initial federal guidance nor the court’s decision staying its implementation have had a significant impact on the schools of New Jersey because of existing state-level law.
NJSBA developed a sample school board policy on Gender Identity and Expression prior to the issuance of the May 2016 federal guidance document. The NJSBA sample policy met the standards set out in the May 2016 document. And it reflects the current state of New Jersey law.