FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 8, 2016
CONTACT: Amber Royster, (505) 224-2766
Albuquerque, NM—Last week, Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) announced the introduction of a procedural directive addressing the safety and well being of transgender students. The directive, drafted and introduced in Spring 2015 through the efforts of New Mexico Safe Schools Initiative partners, prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity, ensures students are addressed by the name and pronoun corresponding to their gender identity, and requires access to gender-segregated activities and areas in accordance with students’ gender identity.
“After a year of development and negotiation on this directive, supported by over a decade of community-led advocacy, we couldn’t be more excited to see APS advance protections for transgender students—one of the most marginalized student populations in our schools,” said EQNM Executive Director Amber Royster. “We are grateful for the tireless efforts of APS Title IX Director Janalee Barnard and the work of the APS Office of Equity LGBT Advisory Committee for ensuring that all students are safe and respected, and have every opportunity for success.”
Typically, procedural directives are created by APS administration and accompany policy change, though are not voted on by the APS Board of Education. The Board adopted policy several years ago that prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity, but a procedural directive providing guidance on implementation was not introduced at that time. The introduction of this procedural directive—while overdue—is especially important, as guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Education in 2014 clarified that transgender students are protected under the definition of ‘sex discrimination’ under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
Said Veronica García, Executive Director of New Mexico Voices for Children: “This issue is about compliance, compassion, and doing the right thing for all students. LGBT youth are at a higher risk of suicide, homelessness, and bullying, so we’re talking about an already vulnerable population. Therefore, the APS Board of Education’s compliance with federal law will help protect these students as well as ensure equity and safety for all students.”
“As an educator and a state legislator, I understand the active role schools play in the well-being of our students,“ said Rep. G Andrés Romero (D-10, Bernalillo). “By adopting this directive, APS will demonstrate its commitment to protecting some of the most marginalized students in our schools - namely, transgender students. APS has the opportunity to exercise critical leadership by advocating for all students to be able to use facilities that correspond to their gender identity, and by allowing them to use their preferred name and gender.”
Added Albuquerque City Councilor Pat Davis (District 6): “We all know that growing up is hard enough; the least we can do is to make sure all parts of our schools are safe and welcoming places for all students. No student should have to worry about whether they will be disciplined for washing their hands in the bathroom that fits them best.”
APS Administration is currently accepting public comment on the procedural directive, and is expected to formally adopt it during their Leadership Team meeting this week. The directive will then be presented to the APS Board of Education at their next regular meeting, at which time the Board will provide any input and hold the Superintendent accountable for the information and processes outlined within the directive.
To provide public comment, please visit: aps.edu/about-us/board/policies-and-procedural-directives.
The New Mexico Safe Schools Initiative is a multi-year collaborative effort to create a greater understanding of Safe Schools practices and culture, build momentum for systemic changes in how we approach bullying prevention in the schools, adopt and implement best practices for transgender students statewide, and provide Safe Schools policy development and implementation support for New Mexico’s public schools.
Partners include: Equality New Mexico, Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico, New Mexico Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) Network, Prevention-at-Play, Southwest Women’s Law Center, and Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) Albuquerque.
For more information, please visit: eqnmfoundation.org/safe-schools-initiative.