A student’s biological gender is apparently no longer the primary consideration in the Bay State when it comes to going to the bathroom or using a school locker room.
An 11-page set of guidelines recently distributed by the Massachusetts Department of Education on how to deal with transgender students mandates that such students should now be permitted to use the bathroom they feel most comfortable using, reports The Washington Times.
The rules apply to every public high school, middle school and elementary school in the state.
“A student who says she is a girl and wishes to be regarded that way throughout the school day and throughout every, or almost every, other area of her life, should be respected and treated like a girl,” the directive instructs.
“Transgender students who are uncomfortable using a sex-segregated restroom should be provided with a safe and adequate alternative, such as a single ‘unisex’ restroom or the nurse’s restroom,” the new rules also stipulate.
The guidelines also say that the discomfort other students could feel about sharing traditionally sex-segregated bathrooms or locker rooms with a transgender student “is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student.” The justification for this rule is that transgender individuals are frequently “at a higher risk for peer ostracism, victimization and bullying.”
As the Times notes, the directive also compels schools to allow transgender students to participate in the gender-specific activities (such as sports teams) they identify with.
Still another guideline requires that teachers and school officials use the names and gender pronouns which transgender students prefer, based on their chosen gender identity.
The Massachusetts Family Institute, a state policy organization, criticized the directive, according to the Stoughton Journal.
“Fundamentally, boys need to be using the boys’ room and girls need to be using the girls’ rooms, and we base that on their anatomical sex, not some sort of internalized gender identity,” the institute’s general counsel, Andrew Beckwith, told the suburban Boston newspaper.
Jane Martin, who chairs a school board in Easton, another suburb of Boston suburb, disagrees.
“If you really, truly understand the nature of transgenders, there’s not a girl in the boy’s bathroom,” Martin told the Stoughton Journal.