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Transgender

One protestor comforts another during a protest in Smithtown July 27. Photo by Jill Webb.

By Jill Webb

In a show of unity, North Shore residents resoundingly condemned President Donald Trump’s (R) intentions to ban transgender people from the military this past week.

Individuals gathered in front of the U.S. Army Recruitment Center in Smithtown in disapproval of President Trump’s announced ban July 27.

The ban stemmed from a series of tweets President Trump put out July 26, citing his reasoning for the transgender ban being that the military “cannot be burdened with the tremendous medical costs and disruption that transgender in the military would entail.”

Trump’s declaration of the ban on Twitter led the Long Island Transgender Advocacy Coalition to come out to Smithtown to oppose the ban in a peaceful demonstration. The group advertised the demonstration via Facebook as a way for the transgender community and their allies to speak up for transgender service members.

Juli Grey-Owens, executive director of LITAC led the demonstration with a loudspeaker in hand, chanting in solidarity with the transgender community.

The goal of the demonstration, according to Grey-Owens, was to put transgender soldiers in the spotlight.

“To make people aware of the fact that there are Americans that are supporting our transgender troops — that’s important,” she said. “Number two, it’s to make people aware of the fact that the transgender community is constantly under duress, constantly being discriminated against and this is just one more thing.”

The aim of LITAC is to advocate for the transgender community, often through forums, demonstrations, and putting on informational sessions that Grey-Owens refers to as transgender 101s.

The Sexual Orientation Non-Discrimination Act, passed in 2003 makes it unlawful for anyone in New York State to be discriminated against in employment, housing, credit, education and public accommodations because of their actual or perceived sexual orientation.

A protestor shows support for transgender military members. Photo by Jill Webb.

But the law isn’t as clear for transgender individuals. SONDA does not explicitly prohibit discrimination based on gender identity and expression — but it does apply when a transgender person is discriminated against based upon his or her actual or perceived sexual orientation, according to the New York State Attorney General’s office.

Specific counties and areas, including Nassau and Suffolk County have taken matters into their own hands and passed more specific anti-discrimination legislation for sexual orientation.

Grey-Owens said that LITAC’s objective is to step in at any time the transgender community is being discriminated against.

The executive director, along with many of the other attendees of the demonstration, was aggravated with Trump’s accusations against the expenses of transgender health.

“One of things that they found is the number is so small in comparison to the defense budget, that it is a point zero something of the actual cost,” Grey-Owens said. “The army spends more on Viagra — ten times more on Viagra — then they will on transgender health costs.”

One of the best ways to help the transgender community, according to Grey-Owens, is to unite with them.

“If you take look at the crowd that’s here now, there are way more cisgender people [someone who’s gender identity matches the sex they were assigned to at birth] than transgender people here, and that’s made our voice louder,” she said. “People are adopting our cause as their cause. If they’re interested in helping out, this is how you help us: expand our voice.”

One participant, Edna White, said that she was in attendance in support of her transgender family and friends. She stressed the negative effects of the segregation.

“Taking a serious defense of our country — that shouldn’t be separated,” she said. “We’re already separated enough in war as it is, so to do that is really disheartening for me.”

Heather Sacc, another protestor said she found Trump’s sudden tweets against the transgender community very alarming.

“There’s 6,000 trans people in the military that have risked their lives,” she said. “The military didn’t ask for this. It’s just [Trump] woke up in the middle of the night and decided ‘oh that’s what I’m gonna do.”

A protestor shows support for transgender military members. Photo by Jill Webb.

Jay Gurecio attended the demonstration representing the LGBTQ+ visibility coalition, a group she is a co-founder of. Gurecio said she felt betrayed by Trump going back on his claims he would support the LGBTQ+ community during his campaign.

Trump tweeted in June 2016, thanking the LGBT community.

“I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs,” he said.

Guercio believes he has not kept to his promise.

“For him to go back on something that was implemented a year ago, that trans-people were allowed to serve and were allowed to get their surgery and their hormones covered, it’s just outright wrong,” Gurecio said.

Gurecio thinks the message Long Island should take from the demonstration is there is an LGBT community that will do everything in their power to stand in solidarity with each other.

“We’re peaceful, this isn’t angry, this isn’t something that’s even violent in any which manner,” Gurecio said. “I want people to understand that we just want to live our lives, and that we want the same rights as everyone else.”

The following day protestors continued to berate Trump during a visit he made in Brentwood to the Suffolk County Police Department.

Patricia Rios was holding a sign saying she voted for Trump and regretted her decision.

“Once he comes for the ‘T’ [talking about Transgendered] he’s going to come for the L, the G and the B,” she said. “So we’re here to protest that.”

Dr. David Kilmnick, CEO of LGBT Network, a Long Island LGBT advocacy group said more than just transgender military members rights were ignored this week.

“We found out… Trump was coming here, and timing would have it that he tweeted that he was going to ban transgender folks from serving our country and serving our military,” he said. “That wasn’t the only thing he did to the community this week — which was big enough. His attorney general filed a court brief saying that Title VII doesn’t protect LGBT people from discrimination from the federal government. Having Trump here on Long Island, having Trump as president is an embarrassment, a disgrace. He doesn’t represent the values of our country of equality and justice.”

A Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released July 28 showed a large portion of the county disagrees with Trump on this position.

According to the poll, 58 percent of adults agreed transgender people should be allowed to serve while 27 percent said they should not.

Currently it’s unclear if Trump’s announcement will lead to real policy change, as the

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said last week the current military policy would not be changed until the White House issued further guidance.

Additional reporting contributed by Kyle Barr and Victoria Espinoza.

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Protestors hold up signs along Main Street in Smithtown on Saturday in protest of the Senate failing to vote on GENDA. Photo from Juli Grey-Owens

Activists took to the Smithtown office of state Sen. John Flanagan (R-East Northport) over the weekend to express their disappointment with the legislature’s failure to pass a state civil rights bill for the transgender community.

GENDA, also known as the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, would have helped restrict discrimination against transgender citizens in areas of housing, employment or public access, which could include things like restaurants or cab rides. The bill, which made it through the state Assembly for nine years straight, died in the Senate when the legislative session ended last week, spurring the Long Island Transgender Advocacy Coalition to protest outside Flanagan’s office on Saturday.

“The transgender community has again been prevented from receiving the basic protections all New Yorkers enjoy” said Juli Grey-Owens, executive director of the Long Island Transgender Advocacy Coalition. “In the past, Sen. Flanagan had said he supported this bill to protect his transgender constituents, but now that he has the power to finally bring the bill to the floor for a vote, he seems to have forgotten his commitment to us.”

The Long Island Transgender Advocacy Coalition is a not-for-profit social justice organization dedicated to advancing the equality of transgender people through advocacy, teaching and empowerment. The group hosted a community forum back in March alongside other activist organizations calling for the Senate to step up and pass the legislation, or at the very least, move the conversation forward.

At that time, Flanagan spokesman Scott Reif said the Senate majority leader “prides himself on being open and transparent,” adding that Flanagan was listening.

“The senator routinely meets with all groups, as he has done for 30 years, throughout his entire public career, regardless of whether he agrees with them or not,” Reif said in an email to TBR News Media in March. “The decision to take a meeting is never influenced by a group’s position on an issue; it is dictated solely by what his schedule will allow.”

Grey-Owens said the transgender community was a constant target of discrimination, and Saturday’s demonstration came less than one week after a gunman opened fire at a gay club in Florida, murdering 49 patrons, in what quickly became the biggest mass shooting in U.S. history.

“The National Transgender Discrimination Survey showed that 26 percent of trans people lost a job due to bias, 50 percent were harassed on the job, 20 percent were evicted or denied housing, and 78 percent of trans students were harassed or assaulted,” Grey-Owens said. “We will continue to fight for our community and the rights that are being denied us.”

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Sometimes common sense gets lost in arguments about transgender people using public bathrooms. File photo

Long before communities started talking about transgender people using bathrooms of the genders they identify with, our society has operated on a policy of privates being private. When someone walks into a male or female bathroom, no one already inside asks to inspect appendages or for legal proof of sex. And if urinators use separate, closed stalls, why does it matter what organs they have?

This apparently does matter for some, given the debates taking place on our local, state and national levels regarding transgender people and which bathrooms are safe or appropriate for them to use. Those debates, however, often lose sight of common sense.

There are those who want to prohibit anyone from using a restroom built for the sex other than the one they are legally labeled with, usually citing fear of predators posing as transgender to gain access to a different bathroom for nefarious purposes. We would like to ask those people two things: When has a legal limitation stopped a pervert from doing perverted things, and why would someone pretend to be transgender for a long period of time, enduring common things like public humiliation and bullying, just to one day enter a bathroom of the opposite sex and attack someone?

If the latter were ever to occur, it would certainly be a rare instance — too rare to make the legislation, which is impossible to enforce, worth the cost of further alienating a group that is already marginalized and just wants to be accepted for who they are.

It’s not like transgender people are using a toilet in front of others. In women’s public bathrooms, there are only private stalls, and a female transitioning to male would still use a stall in a men’s public bathroom.

The least controversial solution is, of course, to have only unisex, single-person bathrooms. To that end, we would encourage developers on new projects, wherever possible, to construct those kinds of bathrooms as opposed to shared bathrooms. They are simply more comfortable for everyone anyway — who doesn’t like to be alone in a bathroom?

But that isn’t necessarily a feasible fix for existing public spaces, not that we think they need to be fixed in the first place. In fact, the argument of transgender people using specific bathrooms opening a door for perverts reminds us of people who once feared homosexuals, contending that they were more likely to be pedophiles than heterosexuals.

The details are different but the message is the same — they seem to think accommodating or accepting LGBT people will put their society at risk.

We need to move forward in our thinking and understand that transgender people want the same thing in a public bathroom that the rest of us want: to pee in peace. Let’s not start a war over public toilets.

Stony Brook University has changed its class policy during the coronavirus outbreak. File photo

Stony Brook University is steps ahead of the nation on its public restroom policies.

Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama required all public schools to provide restroom facilities for all students, including those who identify as transgender. But at Stony Brook, plans are already in place to accommodate students of any identification, making it the first school in the SUNY system to offer up all-gender restrooms and changing rooms.

Timothy Ecklund, dean of students at SBU, said the university introduced a draft diversity plan in December in an attempt to attack persistent issues of inequality affecting society as a whole. In an interview, he said the university’s plan to address gender and inequality, specifically pertaining to the transgender community, included requiring all new and renovated buildings on campus to have all-gender restrooms included in construction plans and installing at least one all-gender restroom in each existing campus building.

“As long as we have transgender people at our university, our perspective is they’re a member of our community and we need to support them,” he said.

Ecklund said Stony Brook University has a total of 24 all-gender restrooms, including three recently reassigned restrooms in its Student Activities Center building, which have multi-stall facilities.

“When we changed our restrooms to all-gender in the Student Activities Center, the feedback from our students was overwhelmingly supportive and positive,” he said. “I spend a lot of time on campus and I see students in and out of the restrooms there without any hesitation. It’s not an issue, for our students, at least.”

As for the students’ perspective, sophomore Sydney Gaglio, president of the campus’ Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Alliance, said the all-gender restroom discussion was long overdue, as it has always been a primary concern of her group.

“We are of course super excited about the all-gender restrooms on campus and it is definitely a point of pride on our campus,” she said in an interview. “As students, there has been some concern mentioned in that when it comes to social media sites like Yik Yak, where things are anonymous, commentary on the all-gender restroom policy on campus can get extremely transphobic, hurtful and invalidating. So there is concern for student health because of social stigma but, all in all, the conversation from members of LGBTA centers on excitement and validation.”

The issue has become a hot topic across the North Shore and greater United States. Last month, Port Jefferson school board members approved a policy for how district officials should interact with and accommodate transgender students, including on the way those students are referenced in school records and what bathroom and locker room facilities they can use. Other school districts on the North Shore have also tried to make rules for transgender students in recent years, but faced backlash from the community.

“Gender-specific restrooms still exist and if you feel more comfortable in those spaces, then that is okay,” Gaglio said. “But things like going to the restroom are personal things; let people do their business in peace and you do yours in peace and everyone will be happy. Allow people to occupy the space in which they feel comfortable in.”

But the university’s support for all of its students does not stop at the label on a bathroom door, the dean said.

Ecklund said the university is home to a number of transgender students, and the school is taking strides to accommodate them and be sensitive to their preferences.

“We are working now as a university at providing the opportunity for our transgender students to change their names,” he said. “We’re trying to make sure the places at which their names are present — especially on a daily basis — they’re able to use the name they prefer or the name that they have taken.”

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Juli Grey-Owens chants with residents at the Setauket Presbyterian Church. Photo by Giselle Barkley

The crowd’s chants were loud and in unison: “Trans lives matter. Pass GENDA now.”

Juli Grey-Owens, executive director of The Long Island Transgender Advocacy Coalition, joined with members of the Long Island DREAM Coalition, the Bus Riders’ Union, SEPA Mujer and the Move to Amend Coalition and other organizations on Thursday, March 17, at the Setauket Presbyterian Church to demand better transparency and representation from state Sen. John Flanagan (R- East Northport).

While the coalitions had different agendas, they all sought to deliver a message to Flanagan with hopes of sparking a serious conversation on transgender rights, public transportation issues, undocumented students and families, isolated confinement and other concerns they argued were being ignored on the state level of government.

“Right now, Long Islanders — everyday, hardworking Long Islanders — are not being seen as a priority in the state, nor by our own state representative,” said Aaron Watkins-Lopez, organizer for the Long Island Bus Riders’ Union.

Last year, Suffolk County made steps to cut various bus schedules because of a lack of state funding. Watkins-Lopez said that Sen. Philip Boyle (R-East Islip) supported getting additional transit funds, and took steps to establish a piece of legislation when former state Sen. Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) was working in the Senate.

Currently, transgender individuals don’t have any laws prohibiting transgender discrimination in the workplace, housing and more.

After Skelos left office because of his own legal troubles, people like Grey-Owens hoped the Senate would finally pass the Gender Expression Non-Discrimination Act, which was introduced in 2003 as a means of outlawing discrimination in New York State based on gender identity or expression.

The state Assembly passed the bill eight years in a row, but was never brought to a vote in the Senate. Grey-Owens said she hoped Flanagan would bring the bill for a vote when he became Senate majority leader.

According to Grey-Owens, Flanagan said he would support the bill in 2014 if it came to the floor for a vote.

“He refuses to bring the bill to the floor and transgender New Yorkers are forced to wait another year to possibly receive the same rights that all New Yorkers enjoy,” Grey-Owens said during the meeting.

Although Flanagan was unable to make the meeting, his spokesman Scott Reif said the Senate majority leader “prides himself on being open and transparent.” He added that Flanagan’s absence wasn’t personal.

“The senator routinely meets with all groups, as he has done for 30 years throughout his entire public career, regardless of whether he agrees with them or not,” Reif said in an email. “The decision to take a meeting is never influenced by a group’s position on an issue, it is dictated solely by what his schedule will allow.”

Watkins-Lopez expressed disappointment with Flanagan’s absence and said it was imperative for state officials to meet with their constituents and acknowledge their concerns.

“We pay taxes, we pay their salaries. We’re their bosses and they need to remember that,” Watkins-Lopez said after the meeting. “They’re public servants. Serve the public not yourself.”

Flanagan’s absence at the meeting was also disappointing for Dulce Rojas, community organizer for SEPA Mujer. The nonprofit organization aims to help Latina immigrants and representatives demanded that Flanagan address their concerns.

Rojas said that human trafficking is prevalent in the area. Rojas said she “wanted to ask him to start thinking about all the residents on Long Island.”

Trustee Adam DeWitt resigned from Port Jeff's BOE. File photo by Elana Glowatz

A proposed policy for Port Jefferson schools could change the way teachers interact with and accommodate transgender students.

The board of education’s policy committee crafted the proposal with help from the student body’s Gay-Straight Alliance club, and included rules for how transgender and gender nonconforming students would be referenced in school records and what bathroom and locker room facilities they would use.

According to the proposed text, students who want to be identified by a gender other than the one associated with their sex at birth could request a meeting with their principal to discuss names, pronouns and designations in school records; restroom and locker room access; and participation in sports, among other topics.

Students would be able to change gender designations in school records if they provide two official forms of identification indicating the new gender and legal proof of a change in name or gender.

Emma Martin, the president of the high school’s Gay-Straight Alliance, said during the Port Jefferson school board meeting on Tuesday night, “This policy could be the difference between whether a student feels safe in the school, whether their learning is hindered or it’s enriched, whether they graduate high school or even if their life could be saved.”

The proposed policy includes a provision that any student’s transgender status would be kept as private as possible, apart from necessary communication to personnel “so they may respond effectively and appropriately to issues arising in the school.”

In addition, it dictates that the district would have to accept any student’s gender identity.

“There is no medical or mental health diagnosis or treatment threshold that students must meet in order to have their gender identity recognized and respected,” the policy reads. “Every effort should be made to use the preferred names and pronouns consistent with a student’s gender identity. While inadvertent slips or honest mistakes may occur, the intentional and persistent refusal to respect a student’s gender identity is a violation of school district policy.”

Martin called the policy forward thinking.

“Even though I won’t be here to see this in place because I’m a senior — I’ll be leaving — I’m very, very proud to say that this will be in place hopefully when I leave.”

Trustee Adam DeWitt, the head of the policy committee, replied that the policy committee could not have done it without her club: “Your contributions and the students’ contributions as well as the staff were critical in the wording … so your legacy and the legacy of the students and the staff that helped us create this will live on for a long time.”

The school board accepted the policy at first reading on Tuesday and could vote to approve it, making it final, at the next board meeting. Its reception was a quiet one — there was no public comment on the policy apart from Martin’s.

That was not the case in other districts that recently attempted to make similar rules. In the Rocky Point and Smithtown school districts, discussions about accommodating transgender students turned into heated debates.

Superintendent Ken Bossert attributed the lack of controversy in Port Jefferson to the fact that the district took time to shape the policy with the help of input from many parties, and officials took up the matter on their own “without discussing any specific child.”

“That can be very sensitive when the community is fully aware of children who are involved in the discussion and that’s what I really wanted to avoid here.”

James Stewart, second from left, with participants at last weekend’s LI Gay & Lesbian Festival. Photo from Raj Tawney

A Greenlawn resident with a love for film has helped create a diverse and welcoming environment at the Long Island Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

James Stewart, a retired Nassau County police officer who is gay, said he’s had a love for film ever since he was a young boy.

“My grandfather was a film usher,” Stewart said. The first film he ever saw with his grandfather was “Gone With the Wind.”

“To me, the Academy Awards are a holy night,” Stewart said. “Everyone who knows me knows not to call me that night.”

The festival celebrated its 18th year at Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington over the weekend, and it was Stewart’s third year as executive director. When he first got involved five years ago, he was the men’s feature program director and then the program director, before he became the executive director.

The executive director handles all of the programming for the festival, and the planning starts as early as March, he said. The festival was five days long and had more than 10 films, ranging from documentaries to feature films.

“My job is to balance everything out and make sure we have an equal amount of light movies, serious movies and documentaries and more, ” Stewart said.

There is also a balance of domestic versus international movies. Stewart said there were films from Australia, India and Mexico this year.

After almost every film, there is a food and cocktail reception, where Stewart said he hopes audience members will interact and help the festival become more of a social experience.

“It’s really about community,” Stewart said. “We hope to be starting new friendships.”

Stewart said he’s tried to get as many LGBT groups to sponsor the receptions as possible to encourage a communal feeling. At the receptions, there are also performers, including musical artists, comedy acts and more.

“I try to be as eclectic as possible,” Stewart said.

For the final night of the festival, Stewart said the entertainment included Broadway performers.

Everyone involved in this festival is a volunteer, and Stewart praised the staff he works with to make this festival possible. He also said Cinema Arts Centre is extremely generous and gracious with the flexibility they give the festival and describes it as “a match made in heaven.”

Stewart said he also likes the opportunity the film festival gives to independent movies that have a very little chance at getting shown on Long Island.

“A lot of these movies you wouldn’t normally get to see on Long Island,” Stewart said. “These are great films, but either they don’t have the proper distribution or enough money, so this is your chance to see them.”

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Paul Garske addresses the Rocky Point Board of Education about the accommodations for transgender students. Photo by Giselle Barkley

After dealing with the outcome of the defeated $20.4 million maintenance bond vote, the Rocky Point Board of Education is faced with another issue to tackle — accommodating transgender or gender-nonconforming students, particularly when it comes to bathrooms and locker rooms.

Although the board tabled the issue during its Oct. 26 meeting, that didn’t stop parents from voicing their concerns. The issue, to parents, is not that these students use the bathrooms or locker rooms they identify with, it’s the fact that these students have not made the full transition to the sex they identify with.

Paul Garske, a father of four, is one of several parents who are not in favor of the school district’s current practice, saying that it confuses younger children and allows for an increase in sexual harassment within the institutions. Garske also mentioned that privacy is difficult to maintain in a locker room setting as students will or may change in front of one another.

“Kids are taught about the difference between boys and girls and privacy,” he said. “When you take that privacy away, it defeats what parents are teaching their children.”

Garske said he has no issue with transgender or gender-nonconforming students, and wouldn’t mind if these students completed their transition into the sex they identified with. He said kids prefer they share a bathroom or locker room with students who have the same genitalia, and suggested that such students utilize the handicapped bathrooms. When he contacted the assistant principal, he was informed that the school’s accommodations for these students was part of the law.

The New York State Education Department issued guidance to school districts to help keep their students safe and prevent discrimination of transgender or gender nonconforming students. The document suggests that a school accepts a student’s assertion regarding their gender identity. While it doesn’t offer many specific means of protecting these children, the document does say “prohibiting a student from accessing the restrooms that match his gender identity is prohibited sex discrimination under Title IX.”

Jen Carlson, another local parent, said regardless of how a student identifies, kids develop differently according to their biological sex. During the Oct. 26 meeting, a further parent stated that residents should keep in mind that these transgender students “are children, and everyone here in this community is also part of keeping those children safe — whether you agree with it or you disagree with it.”

The resident continued addressing the board and those who attended the meeting.

“I hope the school board does the right thing and keeps those children safe,” she said. “If they identify as a girl, then they’re a girl; if they identify as a boy, they’re a boy and they belong in a boys’ bathroom or a girls’ bathroom.”

Both Superintendent of Schools Michael Ring and Rocky Point BOE President Susan Sullivan are determining what is best for these students.

“As is required, while we await a final policy from the Board of Education, the district is operating to implement the outlined material issued and required by the NYSED,” Ring said in an email.

Sullivan added that the board “is continuing to review the new and multilayered guidance document provided by the state Education Department and is seeking advice from our legal counsel about the appropriate steps our district should take in order to ensure our adherence to its contents.”

According to Sullivan, the guidance document is also supported by the U.S. Department of Education. Despite this, Garske doesn’t feel that government should interfere with how he raises his children, who he said feel uncomfortable changing and going to the bathroom with individuals who are not of the same sex physically.

“Do they have a right to be who they are? Absolutely. Do they have a right to their privacy and their comfort? Absolutely,” Garske said. “But not at the risk of my own children’s privacy comfort and their rights.”

The board plans to look further into the issue and make a decision at its next meeting on Nov. 23.

New trustee uses policy committee role to suggest better student accommodations

Smithtown Trustee Jeremy Thode is one of the newest members of the school board. Photo by Victoria Espinoza

The Smithtown board of education has decided to look into adopting policy for transgender students.

School board Trustee Jeremy Thode introduced the issue at the board meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 13.

Thode is a chairperson for the policy committee and said he thinks the board needs to start looking into this issue. He said that at some point in the near future the policy committee would try to obtain language for a policy on transgender students.

“It’s important to ensure that all students are accounted for,” Thode said. “So that they understand what their rights are.”

Thode said that this is purely the beginning and that there are not many other details currently about how the board will approach adopting local policy for transgender students.

New York State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia has had transgender issues in her sights since she first took office in May.

Elia released the Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Guidance Document in July to public school districts throughout New York State.

According to a press release from the New York State Education office, the document is intended to help districts foster an educational environment safe and free from discrimination for transgender and nonconforming students.

It includes information to help districts comply with federal, state and local laws concerning bullying, harassment, discrimination and student privacy.

“All students need a safe and supportive school setting to progress academically and developmentally,” Elia said. “We have a moral responsibility to foster civility in our schools, and to ensure that every student has equal access to educational programs and activities.”

This document also provides guidance on using pronouns and handling issues like restroom and changing room use. It will complement existing resources like the Dignity for All Students Act that was signed into law in 2010. DASA seeks to provide New York State’s public elementary and secondary students with a safe and supportive environment free from discrimination, intimidation, taunting, harassment and bullying on school property, a school bus and at school functions.

Smithtown school district Superintendent James Grossane recently renewed coordinators for this act throughout the school district. 

On Saturday, June 13, the 2015 Long Island Pride Parade marched down Main Street in Huntington Village.

Hosted by the LGBT Network, an association of non-profit organizations working to serve the Long Island and Queens LGBT community, the parade featured an array of marching groups, including community organizations, social groups, LGBT corporate employees and other constituencies.