LeGaL supports proposed NYSED rule to significantly strengthen the rights of trans and gender-nonconforming students

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This week, LeGaL, LGBT Bar NY, submitted comments to the NYS Education Department regarding their emergency regulation. The policy strengthens transgender and gender-nonconforming students’ rights under the Dignity for All Students Act (DASA).

As an organization that provides legal services, and serves the LGBT community, we place great value on the right to education for all children in New York State, including transgender and gender-nonconforming students.

This regulation outlines specific situations when a DASA report must be filed and investigation conducted because of the way a transgender or gender-nonconforming student is mistreated or bullied — by fellows students or by school staff.

The proposed regulation contains several vital amendments that we completely and whole-heartedly support. However, we see several opportunities for improving the proposed language so that it is less confusing and easier to follow, and more aligned with the language and intent of DASA.

  1. Continue to clarify that “gender” always means “gender identity” and “gender expression”
  2. Clarify that a report may be filed regarding the use of name(s) or pronoun(s) or the pronunciation of name(s) that is inconsistent with a person’s gender identity or expression or is otherwise based on another protected status
  3. Add specific protections for a trans student’s privacy rights and protects against disclosure or “outing” of their trans status, sexual orientation, or related private medical information without the student’s express consent.

We asked that NYSED adopt these recommended additions in the final regulatory language to better clarify and assist in DASA implementation statewide, protect the rights of transgender and gender-nonconforming students under DASA, and ensure that all students in New York State have an opportunity to thrive in a school environment that is safe, supportive and free from bullying, harassment, and/or discrimination.

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