NYC Offering Extensive Transgender Student Support Across All Grade Levels

Across the nation, new laws are prohibiting access to transgender student support, but in NYC, aid is extensive across grade levels.

By Erika Hanson | Published

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transgender students

Transgender identifying individuals have been a big topic of contention as of late. Whether direct or not, cultural differences and politics have driven a debate targeted toward transgender students and their rights in schools. Hundreds of bills have been presented in political chambers alone this year targeting school policies on transgender rights. Most of the time, these policies look to hinder support for these children, but New York City, the largest school district in the nation, continues to increase assistance for these children, across all grade levels. 

In the last few years, NYC public schools have drastically increased support systems in schools for transgender students, and LGBTQ youth in general. From gender and sexuality alliance clubs, even to a newer LGBTQ curriculum that supplements existing history lessons, there is no shortage of inclusivity. This support covers not just older students, but it’s circulated around all grade levels, all the way down to kindergarten.

Efforts to ramp up aid for transgender students started in the Big Apple district over a decade ago, but today, these programs are far more extensive. Unlike red states, which have been prohibiting some rights to transgender children in schools through sports and bathroom access laws, NYC saw a need to increase aid to these students as data depicts a massive increase in young children identifying this way. According to the Williams Institute, the number of 13 to 17-year-olds identifying as transgender doubled in the past few years.

At the elementary level, NYC public school students are taught social and emotional building skills with empathy and a focus on acceptance for transgender and LGBTQ students. Chalkbeat reports that at one public school, a teacher incorporates teddy bears as a learning model for this in kindergarten and first-grade classes. The teddy bears are used as a way to include gender identity and pronouns in classroom discussions. Opposers say this takes away from time spent on core learning subjects, but teachers using these say it takes mere minutes a day to bring up gender identity in this way.

At this same elementary school, young students are invited to attend a LGBTQ support group. Called the Rainbow Coalition, this group meets bi-monthly. Teachers advocating for this group say that transgender students are very sure of their gender identity at a very young age. 

The school district has received a lot of pushback for its efforts to bring gender identity awareness to schools in support of transgender students. But for psychologists approving of this within the district, the notion is that all schools are actually teaching gender ideology whether they realize it or not. For seemingly as long as public schools have existed, schools have incorporated stereotypical gender topics in the ways girls and boys have been addressed. To backers, it’s about honoring students’ feelings, no matter what their age. 

transgender students

Despite this sense of advocacy for transgender students in places like New York City, many Republican states have moved swiftly this year to prohibit these students from certain activities and access in schools. Just a few weeks ago, Louisiana became the 18th state to ban transgender females from playing on female sports teams. Some states have targeted bathroom and locker room access as well.

Within the divide over transgender students, the Biden Administration is also ramping up efforts to bring more support to schools. A newly proposed change to Title IX will mandate that would bring even more support to these children. It would protect LGBTQ students from sexual discrimination in schools.

With the increased efforts NYC public schools have brought forth for transgender students, it is met with just as much pushback as it is approved. Polls and surveys depict how divided America is on the topic, and the issue only looks to become more complicated over the years. But for now, students in NYC public schools can feel rest assured that they have plenty of support where needed.