Transgender Bathrooms In Schools

Transgender Bathrooms In Schools

The country's second-largest school district is joining a growing movement toward gender-neutral bathrooms, particularly in California, where state law and L.A. Unified policy already specify that transgender students can use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify. Policies differ elsewhere: In North Carolina, lawmakers passed a bill that restricts which bathrooms transgender people can use, and South Dakota's governor recently vetoed a bill that would have denied students the right to use the bathroom of the gender with which they identify.
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Transgender Bathrooms In Schools

But the guidance letter also consolidates Department of Education guidance that has wide-ranging implications for transgender students in other facets of academic life. Under the Obama administration’s interpretation of the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974, schools are prohibited from publicly disclosing a transgender student’s birth name or biological sex, and are required to change the gender on school records and directories when asked.
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Transgender Bathrooms In Schools

Last year, the Obama administration put out these guidelines. They said, if you, schools, have transgender students in your schools, let them use the bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity.
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Transgender Bathrooms In Schools

“On the surface, the argument is about bathrooms, but at a deeper level, it is about whether or not transgender students will be included in our public education system,” Ineke Mushovic, the executive director of the project, said in a news release. “Put simply, if transgender students cannot safely access a bathroom, they cannot safely attend school.”
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Transgender Bathrooms In Schools

On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union became involved in a new case in Jenison, Michigan, where a student claimed on Facebook that Jenison High School was not allowing transgender students to choose facilities based on gender, the Grand Rapids Press reported. However, the school district insists that it’s not discriminating. Transgender people can visit bathrooms that align with their sex, a gender neutral toilet or unisex staff facilities.
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Transgender Bathrooms In Schools

The letter is addressed to all schools that receive federal funding, including 16,500 school districts and 7,000 colleges, universities and trade schools. It also applies to charter schools, for-profit schools, libraries and museums that receive federal aid.
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Transgender Bathrooms In Schools

Last May, the departments of Education and Justice issued joint guidance directing schools to let transgender students use facilities that correspond with their gender identity. The “Dear Colleague” letter, addressed to school districts and colleges that receive federal funding, was based on the Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX, the federal law that bans sex discrimination in schools, to include gender identity.
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Transgender Bathrooms In Schools

In the districts that have had these rules for a long time, they say that they have had very little problems with them. They say that students’ requests to use them are pretty rare. The most recent estimate on transgender students said that transgender children between the ages of 13 and 17, they make up about 0.7 percent of the population.
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In February, just weeks after President Donald Trump took office, the White House rescinded guidance from his predecessor that instructed schools to let transgender students choose their bathrooms and implied that they could lose federal funding should they disobey. Afterward, reports emerged that DeVos had initially opposed Trump’s decision but ultimately caved.
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Last month, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Justice Department told schools across the country that Title IX of a 1972 federal education law protects transgender students from discrimination based on sex, including the use of bathrooms, locker rooms and showering facilities.
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In March, Springfield Central High School in Massachusetts converted two single-user faculty bathrooms into two gender-neutral bathrooms, one each for faculty and students. Principal Thaddeus Tokarz said transgender students aren’t required to use it, though some choose to do so.
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The guidance could also have an impact on participation in sports and extracurricular activities. While schools can have sex-segregated teams, eligibility for those teams may not “rely on overly broad generalizations or stereotypes about the differences between transgender students and other students of the same sex,” the guidance says.
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“Schools leaders must create the conditions in which each student feels comfortable so each can learn at high levels. Given the high rates of harassment of transgender youth, we have to make a particular effort to safeguard them so nothing gets in the way of their learning.” – Michael Allison, President
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And schools “may not discipline students or exclude them from participating in activities for appearing or behaving in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity or that does not conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity.” In yearbook photos, school dances and graduation ceremonies, for example, schools must allow students to dress and participate based on their chosen gender.
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In a “dear colleague” letter to school districts first reported by the New York Times, the Department of Education maintains that requiring transgender students to use same-sex facilities violates Title IX, the 1972 law that prohibits discrimination based on sex. The letter was provided to USA TODAY by two administration officials who would not discuss it publicly because it hadn’t been sent.
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“When a school provides sex-segregated activities and facilities, transgender students must be allowed to participate in such activities and access such facilities consistent with their gender identity,” reads the letter, signed by two Obama administration officials responsible for enforcing civil rights laws: Assistant Secretary of Education Catherine E. Lhamon, and Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta.
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“Trump’s actions do not change the law itself — transgender students remain protected by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 — but abandoning the guidance intentionally creates confusion about what federal law requires,” Rachel B. Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal, said in a statement.
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Well, so there is actually two big multistate lawsuits. So, more than 20 states are litigating the issue. Their argument are — several things. Some made a student privacy argument, suggesting that it violated the privacy of students who aren’t transgender to share facilities with students who are.
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In Texas, Lt. Gov Dan Patrick has demanded the resignation of Kent Scribner, Fort Worth’s school superintendent, over the district’s transgender-inclusive bathroom policy. Patrick also argued for its repeal, calling it “social engineering.”
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At other L.A. Unified schools, students can access single-stall bathrooms in places such as the nurse's office or the staff lounge if they are uncomfortable, said Judy Chiasson, coordinator for the L.A. Unified's Human Relations, Diversity and Equity office.
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The guidance doesn’t have the force of law, but tells schools how the Department of Education intends to enforce Title IX in the future. And because Title IX is directly tied to federal education funding, the guidance carries an implied threat: Follow the federal guidelines or risk losing those funds.
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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued on behalf of several states and won a nationwide injunction barring federal agencies from taking action against the schools that resisted the guidance. The Justice Department under the Obama administration challenged the lawsuit and arguments were scheduled for early February. Then, one day after former Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions was sworn in as attorney general, the Justice Department withdrew its challenge so the parties could decide “how to best proceed.”

“This is not merely a federal mandate, but a moral obligation no individual, school, district or state can abdicate,” she said in a statement. “At my direction, the department’s Office for Civil Rights remains committed to investigating all claims of discrimination, bullying and harassment against those who are most vulnerable in our schools.”

Starting Friday, the 15-stall bathroom will be open to all 1,780 students at the high school, located in Historic South-Central L.A. just south of downtown. The school's other bathrooms will still be marked for either boys or girls.
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“Our fight over the bathroom directive has always been about former President Obama’s attempt to bypass Congress and rewrite the laws to fit his political agenda for radical social change. The Obama administration’s directive on bathrooms unlawfully invaded areas that are left to state discretion under the Tenth Amendment. School policy should center on the safety, privacy and dignity of its students, not the whims federal bureaucrats.”
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“While this may be new to some educators, parents, and students, this document builds on the successful experiences of educators throughout the country who have skillfully implemented gender inclusive policies, including those related to bathrooms”, said Joel Baum, Senior Director of Professional Development and Family Services at Gender Spectrum. “Enacting these policies allows school leaders to support the needs of all students.”
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Hernandez is in transition from female to male, and his effort was driven, in part, by his own discomfort in using the school’s existing bathrooms. He’d sometimes avoid going to the bathroom the whole day to avoid harassment.
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While the battle continues over North Carolina’s HB2 bill, a related law aimed at making bathrooms open to all genders has been in effect in Washington, D.C. since 2006. Local business owners who have had to adapt see it as practical and convenient.