Monday, 24 July 2017

N.J. Gov. Christie Signs Transgender Rights Bill for Students

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Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has signed a bill into law giving "transgender" students — those who supposedly identify with the opposite gender — legal protections in the state's public schools.

NJ.com reported that the new measure, which takes effect immediately, “requires the state education commissioner to draft specific guidelines to help schools address 'the needs' of transgender students and establish policies that 'ensure a supportive and nondiscriminatory environment' for those students.”

Specifically, schools will no longer be able to compel a male student who claims to identify as a female (or vice versa) to use the men's room or locker facilities. Instead, school officials will be mandated to provide “reasonable alternative arrangements if needed to ensure a student's safety and comfort,” reads the new law.

Additionally, schools will have to ensure that a “transgender” student is addressed by the name and pronoun he specifies, regardless of whether it is his legal name.

The new law also requires schools to allow a student to dress according to the gender with which he supposedly identifies, create a plan to ensure that school staff members do not disclose a student's true sex, issue school documents and identification cards that agree with the student's gender choice, and allow the “transgender” student to participate in phy. ed. activities with the gender of his choice.

The Democrat-controlled New Jersey state legislature passed the measure handily last month — 25-10 in the senate and 59-15 in the assembly. The legislature took the action after President Trump rescinded federal guidelines put in place by the Obama administration requiring that public schools allow “transgender” students to use restrooms and locker facilities of the gender with which they supposedly identify.

“These guidelines are needed to ensure that transgender students can safely be themselves without fear of being persecuted, and can help promote a culture of understanding and acceptance that will hopefully influence how students treat each other in and outside of school,” insisted Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), one of the sponsors.

She was echoed by State Sen. Teresa Ruiz (D-Essex), another sponsor, who declared that “all of our children deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, and that means having the regulatory framework in place to be sure that our schools are safe places and have supportive environments for all students.”

NJ.com recalled that as recently as March Christie “said it should be up to individual school districts to draft policies regarding transgender students and refused to issue statewide 'edicts' on the issue.”

Among the vocal opponents of the bill was the conservative New Jersey Family Policy Council, whose president, Len Deo, warned about the dangers associated with granting “opposite biological sex access” to student bathrooms and locker rooms. Deo said that “transgender” policy should be “a local issue between parents, students, and the school board.”

Christie's signature on the bill appears to contradict his previous views on “transgender” students. For example, in December 2015, in response to a query about his views on a similar law in California, the Republican governor quipped that, in his opinion, “men go to men's rooms, women go to women's rooms, and there really shouldn't be a whole lot of confusion about that.... I don't think we should be making life more confusing for our children.”

NJ.com noted that Christie signed the transgender schools bill “on the same day he signed another measure (S3017/A4568) into law that prohibits state-regulated health insurers, healthcare plans for public workers and teachers, and Medicaid from discriminating in providing coverage or services based on gender identity.”

Photo of Gov. Chris Christie: AP Images

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