New Jersey Governor Chris Christie pleased LGBT political activists on Friday by signing legislation granting transgender students special privileges, such as using whichever restroom they desire, playing on whichever sports team they desire, and being called by whatever pronoun they desire. Any school that does not follow these guidelines could face legal action.
- “[E]nsuring that a transgender student is addressed at school by the name and pronoun preferred by the student that corresponds to the student’s gender identity, regardless of whether a legal name change or change in official school records has occurred…”
- “[I]ssuing school documentation such as student identification cards in the name preferred by the student that corresponds to the student’s gender identity, and permitting a transgender student to dress in accordance with the student’s gender identity…”
- “[P]ermitting a transgender student to participate in gender-segregated school activities in accordance with the student’s gender identity…”
- “[U]se of restrooms and locker rooms, including not requiring a transgender student to use a restroom or locker room that conflicts with the student’s gender identity, and providing reasonable alternative arrangements if needed to ensure a student’s safety and comfort…”
With Christie’s signature, New Jersey became the 11th state to pass legislation offering guidance on transgender school policies. Garden State Equality, an LGBT rights advocacy organization, called the bill’s passage “a huge victory for equality in New Jersey” and expressed their desire “to send a big thank you to Gov. Christie for standing on the right side of history on this one.”
Others were less than pleased by the governor’s action. Speaking for parents and students who would be affected by the change, Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, called the legislation “state-sponsored child exploitation”:
The State of New Jersey has no business invading the privacy and jeopardizing the safety of students by forcing them to use restrooms, showers and hotel rooms for overnight events with someone of the opposite sex. Nor does the state have the right to force students and school personnel to participate in a delusion by requiring them to pretend that people can change their sex. This policy is harmful to everyone. S3067/A4652 violates the religious, privacy, safety and First Amendment rights of students and staff and oversteps parental authority. It is parents, not school officials, who have the right to guide their children in making informed choices about what is best for them. Parents do not want their daughters changing and sleeping in the presence of biological boys, and vice versa.
This vastly unpopular governor — who has a meager 15 percent approval rating (even before his Beachgate scandal) — may be attempting to increase his popularity amongst the miniscule transgender population, but in doing so, he is alienating himself from fellow Republican leaders, social conservative voters, and almost anyone else concerned with protecting children’s safety and privacy.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore