Yesterday, the Trump administration revoked the guidelines set by Former President Barack Obama encouraging public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. Removing these guidelines allows states to decide their own policy on the matter. These guidelines were never law but school’s could face a loss of funding if they did not comply.
Betsy DeVos, current Secretary of State, originally opposed this action stating she had a “moral obligation” to protect all students from bullying and harassment. Facing opposition, DeVos stated the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights would investigate cases of harassment or bullying, this was not a federal matter.
Iowa’s current law is closely aligned with the guidelines decided upon by the Obama administration. Since 2007, Iowa law prohibits discrimination based on gender identity. Many school’s responded to this ruling by building separate accommodations such as “gender neutral” bathrooms and locker rooms that only contained one stall. This is a great step forward in transgender rights but it isn’t enough.
The point of the guidelines put in place by the Obama administration was to allow transgender student to use facilities that match their gender identity, making them more comfortable. Many believe that now allowing this would be breaking Title IX, an amendment stating that no person shall be discriminated against due to their sex in a federally funded education program.
Segregating transgender students to one bathroom is almost identical to Jim Crow laws and having separated bathrooms between whites and blacks. Transgender students may already feel alienated from their peers, this would be one more thing that makes them feel different and excluded.
Another subject that is brought up about this issue is the safety of other students and patrons, specifically young women and children. Bathrooms are not a heavily guarded area. Bodyguards aren’t standing outside with machine guns requiring a birth certificate to use the restroom. If anyone wanted to go into the opposite sexes bathroom for any reason, absolutely nothing is stopping them.
The light at the end of the very dark tunnel is that many public school districts are choosing to initiate policies that make their students feel most comfortable. Public school districts in Charlotte, North Carolina and Louisville, Kentucky already have policies in place that allow student to use the facilities that matches their gender identity. Hopefully, state legislatures follow these ideas and choose love over hate.