New York City schools are stepping up to solidify transgender students' rights by making it a requirement for staff to address students by the pronouns that match their gender identity.
According to the New York Daily News, educators in the city issued updated guidelines this week directing school staff to call students by the pronouns they identify with. The guidelines, which are a part of a 10-page Education Department memo on trans students, also address conditions for using non-binary pronouns.
"It is important to note that for students who are gender-nonconforming or who do not prescribe to the gender binary, they may prefer gender-neutral pronouns such as 'they,' 'ze,' or other pronouns," the memo states, according to the Daily News.
Additionally, the memo also includes advice for staff to protect transgender and gender non-conforming students from bullying.
"It is important for school staff, students and parents to be aware that transgender and gender-nonconforming students may be at a higher risk for peer ostracism, victimization, and bullying because of bias and/or the possibility of misunderstanding and lack of knowledge about their lives," the guidelines read.
“It’s about a safe, supportive and inclusive learning environment,” Jared Fox, transgender community liaison for NYC public schools, told the Daily News. "It’s really hard to concentrate on English or math or social studies when you don’t feel like you belong."
The guidelines are the latest in NYC schools' steps towards progression and inclusivity. Earlier this week, the city's public school hired a gender equality coordinator to be a support system for girls in schools.
Though making it a requirement to call students by the pronoun they prefer isn't necessarily revolutionary, it's a small step that makes a big stand — and one that hopefully paves the way for schools around the country to support trans students.