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APS Provides Students Option To Use Chosen Names Online

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Albuquerque Public Schools announced a new policy to make school more accessible for students who don’t go by their legal name by providing the option to use a chosen first name instead. APS says many students previously had to use their legal name in school settings, which became even more challenging with online classes, where names are often displayed. This can be particularly hard on trans students. 

Some official APS documents like report cards and transcripts will still reflect a student’s legal name. Chief Information and Strategy Officer Richard Bowman says it’s on the district’s online communication systems where the name a student goes by will now show up. “The use of technology has just greatly expanded,” Bowman said. “And therefore the consequences of being misnamed on technology has also greatly expanded.”

While students who prefer a nickname may face these issues, Wyatt Day, the Youth Case Manager at the Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico, says trans students who’ve chosen a new name face unique risks when the old one is displayed publicly.

Day says this can out a trans student without consent, and lead classmates and teachers to disrespect or forget the correct name. “It can be incredibly harmful and disheartening to continuously hear a name they no longer associate with themselves,” Day said. “And in the end, be quite harmful to their overall health and growth as a person and want to engage in day-to-day school activities.”

Bowman says APS students’ chosen names will now appear when sending emails, submitting assignments or participating in class online. The name also will be visible to parents on the district’s online portal. 

He says the district-wide rollout is primarily for online systems and does not include student IDs or class rosters at this time. 

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APS students wishing to update their name in the system should contact their school’s front office.

Nash Jones (they/them) is a general assignment reporter in the KUNM newsroom and the local host of NPR's All Things Considered (weekdays, 5-7 p.m.). You can reach them at nashjones@kunm.org or on Twitter @nashjonesradio.
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