Teachers in New York City public schools are required to refer to all students by their preferred gender pronouns, according to a detailed memo on transgender rights released by the Department of Education this week.

According to the memo, "It is important to note that for students who are gender nonconforming or who do not prescribe to the gender binary, they may prefer gender-neutral pronouns such as 'they,' 'ze,' or other pronouns."

The Daily News, which first reported on the directive, says the new 10-page DOE memo builds on a single page of guidance issued in 2014.

"It's about a safe, supportive and inclusive learning environment," Jared Fox, the DOE's LGBT community liaison, told the tabloid. "It's really hard to concentrate on English or math or social studies when you don't feel like you belong."

A glossary at the top of the memo includes definitions for terms like cisgender ("a person whose gender identity corresponds to their assigned sex at birth") and intersex—"a term used for individuals born with variations in sex characteristics—reproductive or sexual anatomy or chromosome pattern—that do not fit the typical binary notions of male or female bodies."

The memo also calls for students to participate in physical education and intramural sports "in accordance with the student’s gender identity that is consistently asserted at school," though participation in contact sports will be decided on a case-by-case basis. School uniforms must also be gender neutral (women can't be required to wear skirts).

Guidelines for how schools should address transgender and gender-nonconforming students were released at the state level in the summer of 2015. In them, teachers and administrators are directed to refer to students by their preferred pronoun, and allow students to use the bathroom and changing rooms of their choosing.

These basic rights have been reinforced in recent years in response to a hostile climate. The New York Civil Liberties Union released a report in 2015 detailing how public schools across the state have been consistently inept when it comes to protecting the rights of trans students. And last month, President Donald Trump announced his intention to roll back Obama-era guidelines that required public schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms of their choice.

Trump's announcement prompted nation-wide protests, including in front of the Stonewall Inn on Christopher Street. City officials have said they will maintain 2016 guidelines that require all city-owned buildings, including public schools, to have gender-neutral bathrooms, and Mayor de Blasio tweeted after Trump's announcement that "we affirm the right of every New Yorker to use the bathroom that fits their identity."

Mel Wymore, director of TransPAC, a political action committee for trans rights, said Thursday that he felt the new NYC school guidelines are "particularly important" in the current "climate of exclusion and assault on identity."

However, "The next step is really putting in the resources to get the training and skills into the classroom," Wymore added. "This is basically saying that if [fair treatment] isn't happening, you have recourse. That's a protection. It's not an action."

In 2015, the New York City Commission on Human Rights released guidance for the legal enforcement of trans rights. The commission detailed what constitutes gender identity and expression discrimination under the NYC Human Rights Law, including using the wrong gender pronoun repeatedly and intentionally. The new guidelines were quickly lapped up by conservative news websites, which incorrectly posited that simply using the wrong pronoun could result in a $250,000 fine.

You can read GLAAD's tips for being a strong trans ally here. We've reached out to the DOE for comment on the expanded guidelines, and will update accordingly.

[Update 1:30]: Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña stated that, “These updates provide additional clarity and strengthen the guidance that's shared with school communities, and build on our work to ensure all students, including transgender and gender nonconforming students, are provided with a safe, supportive and inclusive learning environment.”