The Green Party of Atlantic County supports the Egg Harbor Township School District’s proposed policy regarding transgender students. This policy would put the rights of personal identity where they belong: with the student in all instances where the student is able to advocate for themselves. The policy aligns with the Green Party’s affirmation of self-determination with regard to gender identity and sex.
This policy explicitly recognizes transgender and gender nonconforming students and their rights to appropriate treatment based on their gender identity including: use of appropriate names and pronouns, permission of use regarding gender-segregated facilities and activities, and acknowledgement of the student's right to self-identify and self-express with regard to gender.
In instances where the student is unable to advocate for themselves, such as in the case of young students, the policy offers parents the right to confirm the student’s gender identity. The policy recognizes that the parent of a student who identifies as transgender or gender nonconforming may disagree with the student, and in that instance the superintendent will meet with the parent and child to address how the school will proceed with regard to the student’s gender.
Students deserve to be protected in all instances where they may be at risk. This policy ensures that students are protected and given the same rights as any other student of their gender identity. The Green Party of Atlantic County affirms that it is no one's right nor responsibility to define someone else’s identity, and as such we must not treat others the way we wish to be treated, but the way they wish to be treated.
This policy comports with the state anti-discrimination law regarding gender identity and expression in areas of public accommodation and allows for a procedural means, rather than litigious means, of addressing issues students may face. Protection at the district level, as opposed to the legal level, enables students and families of any means to have their needs addressed without needing to enter a courtroom or pay legal fees.
Maryssa Brandt, 2009 alumna and former president of the EHT High School Gay-Straight Alliance, said, “To hear that the students of EHT still, in 2016, have to fight to receive basic rights from their teachers and school system is incredibly disappointing. I'm unspeakably proud of the students who have been brave enough to stand up for themselves, and of those who still go day by day being misgendered. I hope the school district realizes the faults of their intolerance, and that trans and gender nonconforming students can feel safe in their own school district.”
The Green Party encourages the school district to pass this policy. Failure to do so damages an already oppressed group fighting for recognition and justice in our society, and risks the safety and mental health of students within the transgender and gender nonconforming communities. The health and safety of the next generation of Americans is not something to take lightly; please err on the side of justice and pass this policy.
Mico Lucide, Secretary
Green Party of Atlantic County