Coming out is never an easy process as it is impossible to tell how people will react. For many, coming out to their parents is not a possibility, as plenty of parents have a difficult time accepting their LGBT children and will go out of the way to cause harm, either physical or mental, and even kick them out of the house. Schools in New Jersey have recognized the potential dangers of coming out and created a new state guidance that protects transgender students by telling teachers that they do not have to tell parents if a student comes out to them as transgender, NJ.com reports. By putting this guidance in place, New Jersey has become a national leader in protecting transgender rights.
Of course, not everyone is pleased with the new guidance. Parents argue that schools have no right to keep such an important detail about their children from them, as they believe that they have a right to know. In an ideal world, trans and other LGBT people would be comfortable telling their parents about their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, but we do not live in such a world. Some people can predict how their parents will react, with some believing that they will get disowned or physically abused. If a student confides in a teacher that they are trans and tells them that there will be negative consequences if their parents find out, the teacher should be able from refraining from telling their student's parents.
It's unfortunate but it does happen. According to The Williams Institute, between 30% to 43% of the homeless youth identify as LGBT, a staggering number no doubt caused my parents who do not accept their child's identity. By allowing teachers to keep their students' identity hidden from their family, New Jersey schools will potentially decrease cases of discrimination and abuse. Transgender individuals face unique challenges, as the concept of one's gender not matching their biological sex is still unfathomable to many people, including the parents and family members of trans people.
That's why this state guidance is so important: it protects trans students from the potential dangers of coming out. Hopefully more people will become better educated on transgender identity so that such laws do not have to exist, but for now, New Jersey took a step in the right direction.
h/t: NJ.gov, NJ.com, The Williams Institute