New York Public School passes an anti-transgender sports resolution

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Parents dressed in white at Community Education District 2 Meeting debate anti-trans sports policy. Front row is Chase Strangio and Paula Mendoza, an a sea of people dressed in white in support of two-spirit, trans, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary students. The room has white panel ceilings with over head blueish, white lights.
Parents convene at Community Education Council District 2 Schools in support of two-spirit, trans, gender nonconforming, and nonbinary students and against anti-trans Resolution 248; Photo by Lana Leonard

Community Education Council District 2 of New York City, one of the largest school districts in the city, had a contentious meeting after passing (8-3) an anti-transgender sports policy titled Resolution #248 on March 20, 2024. 

As a result Chase Strangio, CEC District 2 parent, Deputy Director for Transgender Justice, and staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), organized LGBTQ activists throughout New York City to show up in support of two-spirit, trans, nonbinary and gender nonconforming students. Strangio encouraged people to “pay attention” to decision-making bodies. He also brought understanding to the ways civil rights law doesn’t unfurl under “debate.”

Strangio organized with activists to unite 70 people dressed in white in support of trans students in District 2, and wherever there are anti-trans narratives erasing protective policies.

This comes as more than 16 New Jersey schools are being held accountable by the state for passing anti-LGBTQ policies or for abolishing best-practice transgender policy 5756. Usually, schools replace or amend policy 5756 with a “forced outing” policy against trans, gender-nonconforming students. Similarly, anti-trans CEC District 2 passed an anti-trans sports rule in New York.

“I’m here again this month as a District 2 parent, as a civil rights lawyer, and as a trans person,” Strangio said at the meeting.  “And one of the things that was striking to me last month is that, like in many places across the country, government officials, people in positions of power, think that trans people are the subject of legitimate debate, a place to erode civil rights for all of us. And one of the ways that that’s able to happen is because people fundamentally believe that trans people don’t have people in their corner.”

With that, Strangio said he and activists will return each month with more people until this resolution is revoked. “One, we’re mobilizing parents in the district to vote in the next election. And two, we want you to remember every single month, the consequences of situating trans student bodies and trans people as threats to others,” Strangio said. 

The language in the resolution speaks to anti-trans sports bans passed in 24 states in the U.S., according to the Movement Advancement Project (MAP). These laws often speak to “protecting girls.”

One CEC D2 parent made clear that cisgender girls want to play with “anyone who identifies as a girl.” 

“And so please don’t ever hide behind this illusion that you’re protecting your safety to justify your own hate, your own ignorance, your own fear, own that for yourself. Except not use our girls’ names in vain,” said Reshma Saujani, lawyer and founder of Girls Who Code, “because the millions of them will tell you that is who they want to play sports with — anyone who identifies as a girl, anyone who’s nonbinary, anyone who’s trans, and that they support and love one another, so don’t bring hatred into our schools.”

Like many anti-trans sports bans, Resolution #248 seeks to “Call for a Comprehensive Review and Redrafting of NYCPS Guidelines on Gender about the Application and Impact on Female Athletes Participating in Physical Education, Intramural and Competitive Public School Athletic League (PSAL) Sports.” 

In 2019, the NYC Department of Education released ts first Guidelines on Gender (on which the resolution speculates), and those guidelines included gender identity in place of biological sex in order to be inclusive of two-spirit, trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming students in numerous policies. However, the CEC of District 2 incorrectly believes that this leverages an advantage to trans student-athletes, which led to the 8-3 vote passing of the resolution. 

Trans exclusionary narratives are a talking point for Moms for Liberty, whose chapters border almost every major city in the U.S.. Trans girls don’t have an advantage over cisgender girls. To think otherwise, according to the ACLU, is debunked as a myth.  

Len Silverman said that “Community Education Council tonight will make it absolutely loud and clear that the district 2 Community Education Council supports the LGBT community. Now that being said we have differences on certain issues,” in the March 20, 2024 meeting. 

“Leonard, are you aware that New York human rights law bans discrimination based on gender identity? And the New York City Office of Human Rights has also released an enforcive guidance, explicitly stating to allow people to utilize single-gender facilities and programs aligned with their gender is a violation of the law,” questioned Alaina Daniels, co-founder and executive director of Trans Formative Schools.

Usually, anti-trans policies lead to violence at schools. For example, the U.S. Trans Survey found that 22% of trans girls and women perceived as trans in school were harassed. Some were harassed so badly they had to leave school because of it. This is why anti-discrimination policies and best-practice guidances exist say LGBTQ activists and the ACLU.

The 2020 New York Human Rights Law states “gender identity discrimination occurs when a person is subjected to inferior treatment because of their gender identity or expression. The Human Rights Law prohibits such conduct in conditions or privileges in employment, schools, in the provision of housing or places of public accommodation.”

Grace McKenzie is a New York City rugby club player and trans woman. McKenzie says the anti-trans resolution strips students of valuable resources. “Sports taught me leadership, teamwork, and the value of perseverance,” said McKenzie. “It gave me an outlet to process the gender dysphoria I was battling — but did not understand — rather than drinking, doing drugs, or self-harm. The same father that lived vicariously through me for so long abandoned me when I transitioned and I haven’t heard from him in three years.”

Educator and author, Megan Madison, said she was moved by all the people in attendance at the meeting. 

“[H]aving attended the last meeting, and the meeting before that one, it felt a little bit lonely,” said Madison. “There weren’t as many people here. And so when I walked in late today and saw this room full — I was already emotional today — and I am deeply, deeply moved. I just want to say that these people will have terms and those terms will end.”

Maud Maron (known for her anti-trans rhetoric), Allyson Bowen, Sabena Serinese, and CEC D2 President Len Silverman sponsored the resolution.

“I am gonna make sure that we see you on May 2, and the meeting after that and the meeting after that. You will not forget my face,” Strangio said. 

Lana Leonard
Lana Leonard (they/them) is a graduate from The College of New Jersey with a degree in journalism and professional writing. They work at the GLAAD Media institute and freelance for publications like LGBTQ Nation while working on their journalistic theory of change project: Late Nights with Lana, a talk show based out of 10PRL film studios in Long Branch, NJ. Lana's mission, in all their work, is to focus on people, their collective truths and how those truths form a community of knowledge towards change.