CONTACT: Amber Royster, (505) 224-2766
Santa Fe, NM—Today, Santa Fe Public Schools (SFPS) announced the incorporation into existing policy of an administrative regulation addressing the safety and well being of transgender students. Formally introduced in October 2015 through the efforts of the Santa Fe Chapter of the All Families Matter Coalition and New Mexico Safe Schools Initiative partners, the regulation 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. The regulation is supported by changes made to the SFPS Nondiscrimination Policy last year, in which ‘gender identity’ and ‘gender expression’ were added as protected classes.
“The nondiscrimination policy and administrative regulation to protect transgender and gender non-conforming students are the result of deep community collaborations and a long history of LGBTQ+ advocacy in our communities,” said Jess Clark, Education and Prevention Manager at Solace Crisis Treatment Center. “As an anti-violence educator, someone who grew up as a transgender student in Santa Fe Public Schools, and a member of the All Families Matter Coalition, I could not be more proud of the district’s commitment to create safer schools for all students.”
A key organization in this effort is the New Mexico Gay Straight Alliance Network (NMGSAN), which provides critical support to LGBTQ students in school districts statewide through school-based clubs, youth retreats and camps, and social and learning environments in which LGBTQ students and their allies can connect and support one another.
“We are beyond excited to see this administrative regulation move forward as it provides equitable treatment for transgender students in Santa Fe Public Schools,” said LuzMarina Serrano, Program Manager for NMGSAN. “Partnering with LGBTQ+ serving organizations has strengthened the impact of our reach as local and community organizers. As we know, investing in our communities is vital to our survival. There is power in numbers, and the work it took to get this together is proof.”
Added EQNM Executive Director Amber Royster: “This is another success in our multi-faceted advocacy approach to making New Mexico public schools safer and more beneficial for transgender students. Through the Santa Fe Chapter of the All Families Matter Coalition, the New Mexico Safe Schools Initiative, and the Beyond Bullying Initiative of the Envision Fund at Santa Fe Community Foundation, we worked collectively among community members, parents, students, local advocacy organizations, district staff, and Board of Education members to ensure that best practices for transgender students were not just implemented, but thoroughly understood.”
The incorporation of this administrative regulation—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 Jenn Jevertson of Prevention-at-Play, a lead partner in the effort: “This is a strong policy based on best practices around the country, including the GLSEN model policy, the San Francisco Unified School District policy, and corrective action statements from the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. Policies similar to these have been implemented with great success across the nation for over ten years, and we are proud that Santa Fe is now among the school districts doing the right thing. This is a great demonstration of the strength of community partnership to make needed change.”
All Families Matter Coalition: With chapters in Las Cruces, Santa Fe and Albuquerque, this coalition consists of more than 80 allied organizations throughout the state working together to build community, access, and wellness for queer and trans New Mexicans. More information: eqnm.org/all-families-matter/
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. More information: eqnmfoundation.org/safe-schools-initiative.