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New Jersey governor approves bill that would allow transgender students to use restrooms of their choice

(Reuters/Eduardo Munoz)New Jersey Governor Chris Christie answers a question during the 110th Town Hall Meeting in Middletown Township, New Jersey, February 20, 2014.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has approved a legislation that would require the state Commissioner of Education to develop guidelines regarding transgender students, including allowing them to use restrooms that correspond with their gender identity instead of their biological sex.

On Friday, Christie signed S3067/A4652, which directs the state Commissioner of Education to create guidelines that would ensure a "supportive and nondiscriminatory environment" for transgender students in New Jersey schools.

Under the guidelines, New Jersey school district will not be able to force students to use bathrooms that do not correspond with their gender identity.

The guidelines would also require teachers to use the name and pronoun that are consistent with the student's gender identity, and to recognize the students' gender identities on their ID cards and in the enforcement of dress codes. It would also allow transgender students to participate in gender-segregated activities in accordance with their gender identity.

"These guidelines are needed to ensure that transgender students can safely be themselves without fear of being persecuted, and can help promote a culture of understanding and acceptance that will hopefully influence how students treat each other in and outside of school," said one of the bill's sponsors, Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen), according to The Christian Post.

Christie had stated in March that it should be up to individual school districts to decide policies on transgender issues, and he has not provided an explanation on why he decided to sign S3067/A4652 into law on Friday.

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump's administration rescinded an Obama-era guidance that required schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms according to their gender identity.

However, the Trump administration also issued a memo in June, warning schools that they could be investigated for discrimination against transgender students if they do not use their preferred pronouns.

The New Jersey governor also signed A4568, a legislation that would prohibit state-licensed hospitals state-licensed hospitals, health providers, health insurers, and Medicaid from refusing service to transgender individuals.

The legislation appears to be a response to the case of Jionni Conforti, a biological woman who sued a Catholic hospital in New Jersey after being denied a hysterectomy as part of her transition to a man.

Christie's record on approving legislation regarding LGBT issues has been described as mixed at best. The governor had opposed same-sex marriage, but he chose not to fight a court decision that overturned the state's ban on such unions.

In 2013, Christie approved a bill that bans ex-gay therapy for minors, but he had vetoed bills that would make it easier for transgender people to change their genders on their birth certificates. He expressed concerns that easier guidelines could allow for "fraud, deception, and abuse."

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