ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - Transgender students represent a small fraction of the APS student population, but they're a group that present unique issues for the district.
The New Mexico Activities Association instituted a transgender policy earlier this year when two APS students who are biologically male but identify as female wanted to play girl's sports. The NMAA ruled that students must play with the gender on their birth certificate.
Now the district is diving into the controversial issue, laying out guidelines for principals on an array of transgender issues.
"Every year, this issue comes up and principals ask for direction," said Winston Brooks, APS superintendent. "I don't want principals in a position where one principal on one side of town decides one direction and somebody else decides another."
Under the guidelines, transgender students will be given the option of using a gender-neutral bathroom or locker room. If a specific gender-neutral facility isn't available, the student will be given access to an alternate bathroom.
Transgender students who want district records to reflect a new name will be asked to get a court-ordered name change first. To change the gender on those records, a birth certificate reflecting the new gender will be needed. Obtaining a gender change on a birth certificate in New Mexico requires a transgender student to get surgery.
At a committee meeting Wednesday, some APS board members criticized the guidelines with some saying they single students out or are burdensome.
"Asking for a birth certificate is cumbersome, expensive and not always possible," said Donald Duran, an APS board member.
The Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico was also critical.
"For me, this feels like a huge school district that had the opportunity to lead the way in our country is going to find themselves on the wrong side of history and having done the wrong thing by transgender people," said Adrien Lawyer, the group's executive director.
Lawyer wants to see APS' policy modeled after a California state law that was signed Monday by the state's governor Jerry Brown. That law allows transgender students to play sports with whatever gender they identify with and allows transgender students to use boys or girls restrooms.
Board members and Brooks both agreed that state lawmakers need to step up and give school districts guidance on the issue.
"I think the real meat of this issue has to come from the state," Brooks said.
APS says there are 12 transgender students in the district right now, although Lawyer disputes that saying there are likely dozens more.
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