New Jersey’s Paterson Public Schools is allowing transgender students to participate in its school systems, after a judge said in May that the policy was in violation of a federal law that bans discrimination on the basis of sex.
Under the policy, transgender students are required to use the restroom that corresponds with the sex on their birth certificate, but can use the facilities of their gender identity and gender expression, according to the New Jersey Family Policy Council.
Under a court order, the city will allow transgender students in the fourth grade, but only after providing students with a signed form attesting to the policy’s legality.
In addition, a transgender teacher will be allowed to continue teaching in the school system.
“The law states that no student may be denied access to facilities that correspond with the gender identity of their birth,” said Jennifer Kuehn, a spokeswoman for the council.
“If a school board has not agreed to provide that accommodation, we are working with a legal team to do so.”
Paterson is one of more than two dozen districts across the country that allow transgender people to use facilities consistent with their gender identities, including locker rooms, restrooms, showers and locker rooms.
The city of Newark, New Jersey, and parts of New York, Illinois and Pennsylvania have similar policies.
The New Jersey Human Rights Commission issued a statement in May saying that a transgender student in a public school would be at “a disadvantage in terms of accessing facilities and services that match their gender.”
The commission added that it is concerned that some schools have begun to implement policies that discriminate against transgender students.
“This is a new and important opportunity for transgender students,” said Elizabeth Seelig, a commissioner with the commission.
“They have a unique need to feel safe and to feel supported.”
The council is working to pass a resolution calling on the governor to lift a ban on transgender people serving in the military.
The governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.