Last week, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and I
issued a reminder that despite what is happening at the federal level, New York State protects transgender students
. Attorney General Schneiderman and I vehemently object to the recent decision by the federal Department of Education to no longer investigate civil rights complaints from transgender students regarding access to bathroom facilities. Our
letter to school districts
across New York State provided a reminder that - irrespective of the federal government's decision - they have independent duties under federal and state law to protect transgender students from discrimination and harassment in their schools and at all school functions.
The federal government's announcement earlier this month is just the latest action to further diminish civil rights protections for transgender students and follows the February 2017 decision by President Trump and the federal Departments of Education and Justice to rescind guidance that clarified federal legal protections for transgender students.
Given recent events and changes in priorities under the Trump administration, as parents, educators, and leaders of state agencies, we must all work together to protect all the children in our schools. It is appalling to see the federal government refuse to investigate these important civil rights complaints from transgender youth, who are valued members of our schools and communities across New York State. No child should endure harassment or discrimination and we must create learning environments that are safe and welcoming for all. Statistics show that transgender youth are particularly at risk, with more than half of these students attempting suicide at least once by their 20th birthday. We need to offer further support to these children and not turn our backs on those most in need. The guidance we have developed with Attorney General Schneiderman and our partners places an emphasis on respecting all students and all people.
The New York State Next Generation Learning Standards were adopted by the Board of Regents in September 2017. The new standards are the culmination of a two-year collaborative process that resulted in substantive changes while maintaining rigor, and involved committees composed of more than 130 educators and parents.
As a parent and an active participant in your child's education, you might have questions about the Next Generation Learning Standards. Many school districts will partner with parents and the PTA to effectively communicate the expectations in the standards and ensure two-way communication about the standards is open. Please reach out to your child's teacher or school if you have questions about the new standards.
Thank you for reading and, as always, thank you for supporting our schools.