Local advocacy group reacts to revoked transgender bathroom guidelines

COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Trump administration is lifting guidelines that allows transgender students to use public school bathrooms or locker rooms that match their chosen gender identity.

Equality Ohio said the Department of Education has already been interpreting sex discrimination as inclusive of gender identity of transgender people. Communications director of Equality Ohio Grant Stancliff said this was before the Obama directive and before President Donald Trump rescinded it.

He said despite this, he’s worried what impact it may have on young transgender youth.

“It’s an unprecedented move and it targets specifically kids, which gives me pause,” said Stancliff. “One thing to know is this doesn’t absolve school districts of their obligation to accommodate transgender students.”

On Wednesday, Trump’s administration reversed the Obama-era directive that leaves it up to states and school districts to interpret whether federal sex discrimination law applies to gender identity.

But, Stancliff said there are still protections in place.

“The material reality is that schools are still obligated under Title IX to accommodate their students fully,” he said. “Five courts of appeals have already found that sex discontinuation is inclusive of transgender people.”

Columbus City School District said in a statement:

Columbus City Schools and our Board of Education have long been leaders on protecting the rights of ALL students. Our Board was one of the first to add “gender identity or expression” to its policies on non-discrimination. In this District, we believe there is no place for discrimination and we want every student to feel safe and welcome each day.

Our District’s administrators and principals had already begun addressing proper accommodations for transgender students well before the directives of the Obama Administration. We are not changing course, even though the reversal by the Trump Administration no longer requires it. Our leaders – and our community – believe it is still the right thing to do.

“The thing that scares me the most is in every situation where large groups of people are being affected, kids tend to get it the worst and we’re seeing this with refugees, we’re seeing this with immigrants under this administration and now we’re seeing it with transgender children,” said Stancliff.

He said it’s important to treat trans kids like every other student.

“A trans girl is a girl. A trans boy is a boy and everybody has a expectation of privacy and safety in the rest rooms and that goes for trans-children just as well as non-trans children,” said Stancliff.

The new letter by the Trump administration said the guidelines are lifted, but anti-bullying safeguards will not be affected.

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