Letting students change their name can greatly improve their self-esteem. (Photo Credit: jpgon via Adobe Stock)

From March 19 to March 22, the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI) will be launching a “preferred name” field on school-related paperwork. This effort was spearheaded by the Campaign for Southern Equality as well as Powerschool, a virtual system for academic record-keeping. 

The ability to input a preferred name could potentially protect transgender and non-binary individuals from harassment. 

According to NCDPI, only official transcripts and select state-regulated documents will display a student’s legal name. The ability to allocate a preferred name to one’s file will be available to cisgender students as well. The Campaign for Southern Equality maintains that allowing youths to select what they are called in school will improve their self-esteem and academic interactions.

A coordinator within the Campaign for Southern Equality, Craig White, stated that incorrect gender identification and deadnaming (referring to a transgender individual with the name they used prior to any point of transitioning) are common occurrences.

This new policy, White claims, will allow schools to maintain students’ LGBTQ status as a private matter, instead of outing them as transgender or otherwise gender-nonconforming. White went on to say that this development will be helpful for any person who is uncomfortable using their legal name, including those with names that are difficult to pronounce by English speakers, those who do not want to be linked to their past or those who simply have an awkward relationship with their legal names.

NCDPI’s program to increase transgender acceptance throughout North Carolina will be experienced by youths from elementary school until high school graduation. Once graduated, students who attend universities such as the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC) will continue to be presented with resources pertaining to their preferred names. 

Much like the Powerschool system, UNCC enables students to request a preferred name in most documentation, including ID cards. Accessibility to the preferred name slot not only provides the elements of protection and privacy, it can increase the students’ personal confidence and self-respect.

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