New Jersey governor signs bills protecting transgender residents

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed two pieces of legislation on Friday (21 July) giving transgender residents greater protections.

The first bill prevents school districts from forcing transgender students to use facilities that correspond to their birth sex rather than gender identity.

It also requires the state education commissioner to establish guidelines for how to handle name and gender-identity changes, participation in student activities and preferred pronoun usage.

It further allows students to wear clothing that corresponds with their gender identity and allows for the creation of LGBTI student clubs.

The bill states that at a minimum, schools must make ‘reasonable alternative arrangements if needed to ensure a student’s safety and comfort.’

The second bill forbids health insurance companies from denying coverage or charging higher premiums because of gender identity.

Surprise move

Christie signing the school bill came as a surprise to some, reported. In March, the Republican governor indicated such decisions should be left to the individual school districts.

Christie’s office declined to comment.

Garden State Equality, the state’s largest LGBTI rights group, applauded the Republican governor taking a stand for LGBTI residents, the Observer reported.

“We are ecstatic that the governor has decided to stand on the right side of history by protecting all of New Jersey’s residents,” said Christian Fuscarino, executive director of Garden State Equality.

Both bills were sponsored by Democratic Assemblymember Valerie Huttle of Bergen, and had bipartisan support.

Huttle issued a statement saying…

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