- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Massachusetts Department of Education has issued a new directive for schools in the handling of transgendered students, including allowing them to use whichever restroom they choose.

“Transgender students who are uncomfortable using a sex-segregated restroom should be provided with a safe and adequate alternative, such as a single ‘unisex’ restroom or the nurse’s restroom,” the 11-page directive reads.

The directive also states even though some students may feel uncomfortable with sharing the same sex-segregated restroom or locker room as the transgendered student, the “this discomfort is not a reason to deny access to the transgender student.”

The Massachusetts Family Institute denounced the new rules calling them a violation of privacy.

“Fundamentally, boys need to be using the boys’ room and girls need to be using the girls’ rooms, and we base that on their anatomical sex, not some sort of internalized gender identity,” Andrew Beckwith, the institute’s general counsel, told Fox News’ Todd Starnes.

He said said the new policy has a “very broad standard that is ripe for abuse.”

The directive also requires that all transgendered students be allowed to participating in gender-specific activities that he or she identifies with.

“A student who says she is a girl and wishes to be regarded that way throughout the school day and throughout every, or almost every, other area of her life, should be respected and treated like a girl,” the guidelines stipulate.

Another issue the directive clarifies is birth names and the gender-neutral or gender-specific the transgendered student chooses. For example, if Alexander goes through a gender transition while attending a Massachusetts school, instructors and school officials will then have to adopt the name the student prefers, such as Alexandra.

“School personnel should use the student’s chosen name and pronouns appropriate to a student’s gender identity, regardless of the student’s assigned birth sex. … It is important to develop a plan for initiating use of the chosen name and pronouns consistent with the student’s gender identity,” the directive reads.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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