NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The New York City Department of Education is embarking on a new initiative to provide single-stall restrooms for transgender students and students with special needs.
As CBS2 Political Reporter Marcia Kramer reported Tuesday, you could call it the bathroom privacy initiative. Mayor Bill de Blasio and schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña are moving to build, install or designate single-stall restrooms in all 1,100 school buildings to meet the needs of transgender and gender non-conforming students, and those with medical conditions or disabilities.
"Our message is that all students should feel safe and secure in our school buildings and feel comfortable with whatever privacy they need," said schools Deputy Chancellor Elizabeth Rose.
School officials said they are earmarking $1 million to make sure each building has at least one single-stall facility, with the option to build a second.
"We think the most important thing is for students to feel comfortable and safe in their school environment, and if this can help -- and if this can help some of our students feel more comfortable and safe -- then it's worth it," Rose said.
The money will be spent to make sure each restroom has clear and appropriate signage and special safety locks.
Officials said it is an outgrowth of conversations with transgender students, who are seeking an environment free from discrimination and harassment.
"These will be all-student bathrooms," Rose said. "Any student who wishes to have additional privacy can use them."
Parents are divided about whether it is the best use of educational resources.
"I think they could do a lot better with the money than spending it or bathrooms," said Christina Silva of Jamaica, Queens.
"I think it's good," said Ingrid Wilkes of Lower Manhattan. "Transgender has to be treated equally and it's good for the kids as well to recognize that."
The city said it does not know how many transgender students there are in the public school system. The bathroom rollout starts this month, to be completed by January.
The plan is to repurpose existing restrooms used by teachers and faculty.
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