New Jersey school board votes to adopt transgender restroom policy

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ByToni Yates via WABC logo
Tuesday, April 12, 2016
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Toni Yates is live in Hillsdale with the details

HILLSDALE, New Jersey (WABC) -- A northern New Jersey school district voted to adopt a policy that would allow students to use restrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity.

The Pascack Valley Board of Education voted 7 to 1 to adopt the policy.

Four Pascack Valley seniors voiced their position on the issue earlier Monday. One is off to the Marines and the others to college.

They'll leave high school well versed and rehearsed on what it means to make a difference, after stepping up to have their say on the transgender policy and making a difference.

"We have friends who are transgender, we know how important it is to them," said Laura Friel, a senior.

"There's not a huge community. It's good to speak up with them," said Jasmine Abraham, a senior.

The district's superintendent says that's exactly what the policy, already adopted in several New Jersey school districts, looks to protect.

The district held information meetings for parents and the public. It was during those that some people voiced opposition, even asking that Monday's vote be postponed.

It wasn't and it passed easily. Zak Terzini is student body president.

"We like to think of Pascack Valley as a second home where everybody feels included," Terzini said.

Grace Cho is president of the Human Rights League.

"We have friends who are trans, and when the issue came, we wanted to be in support of it," Cho said.

Pascack Valley students have earned the school awards for their involvement in social causes.

A mural in the main hall encourages engagement, tolerance, and acceptance. The board and the community have heard from this group before, and did again Monday night.

"Yes they can speak for themselves, they are not alone, there are people backing them up," said Erik Gundersen, the superintendent.

This meeting was the second time the proposal was up for a vote. The board tabled the issue in February after parents and residents voiced concerns. Some parents have raised privacy issues for students who aren't transgender.

But the district says the policy is needed to comply with anti-discrimination laws.

(Some information from the Associated Press)