Yet another state is telling teachers they can hide students’ gender identity from their parents unless the student gives permission for their parents to know.
The New Jersey education department’s official guidance on the subject states that, “a school district shall accept a student’s asserted gender identity; parental consent is not required.”
“School district personnel should have an open, but confidential discussion with the student to ascertain the student’s preference on matters such as chosen name, chosen pronoun to use, and parental communications,” the guidance says.
No legal name change or medical diagnosis is required for schools to accept a student’s gender identity, according to the guidance.
The guidance adds that there is “no affirmative duty” for the school district to notify a student’s parent about the student’s gender identity. Even if a parent disagrees with a student changing their name and pronouns, school staff should continue to refer to the student by their new name and pronouns, according to the guidance.
The guidance even recommends to warn the transgender student that other students talking about the transgender student at home could “inadvertently disclose” the student’s transgender status.
Furthermore, school districts should be “mindful” of disputes between a student and their parents over gender identity, the guidance says. It refers districts to the education department’s “Child Abuse, Neglect, and Missing Children” webpage for more resources.
The education department said the guidance on transgender students was developed after a review of policies and guidance from other states and organizations. The department also said it consulted with parents and teachers as well as mental health professionals and “advocates” on the guidance.
One teacher in New Jersey public schools said that while the teacher wants to believe that the state has the interests of the students in mind, the guidance is “hard to swallow” from an educator’s perspective.
“If a student in my class was failing my class because they failed to complete homework, would I ever lie and tell a parent they’ve completed everything? Or just not communicate with the family at all because the student might get in trouble for not doing said homework?” the teacher, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told The Daily Wire.
“I should not be burdened with the extremely sensitive responsibility of rearing impressionable (13 or 14 year old) students and potentially keeping the gender or sexual preference of a student secret from his or her family,” the teacher said.
The teacher added that communicating with the student’s family would allow teachers and parents to work together to truly help the student.
“We are being tasked with referring to student by whatever name they’ve created, acknowledging whatever pronoun they choose, and then leaving their parents in the dark,” the teacher said. “If I’m to be on board, no questions asked, then I at least should be able to speak with the family about it so we could truly help the child with whatever they are going through.”
In another change, students in New Jersey public schools will receive lessons on gender identity this fall when new state sex education guidelines go into effect in September.
“You might feel like you’re a boy even if you have body parts that some people might tell you are ‘girl’ parts,” reads one lesson plan in one district.
There are nearly 2,500 public schools in New Jersey serving 1.28 million K-12 students. The system has nearly 130,000 teachers.
New Jersey is not the only state that tells teachers to keep secrets from parents when it comes to their children’s gender identity.
Washington state has a similar policy, requiring teachers to conceal students’ gender transitions from their parents unless the student explicitly gives the green light for their parents to know.
Teachers must avoid “unintentionally outing the student at home” and should ask transgender students which name, pronouns, and gender designation should be used when communicating with parents, says guidance from Washington’s Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction.