YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Members of the Valley’s LGBTQ community and a local lawmaker are disheartened by President Trump’s decision to reverse a policy allowing transgender students to use the restroom corresponding with their gender identity.
“It’s really important to talk about it, and not just push it to the side and pretend it doesn’t exist,” Kage Coven said.
Last May, former President Barack Obama’s justice and education departments instructed public schools to allow transgender students to use whichever bathroom corresponded to their gender identity.
The guidance was based on the former administration’s interpretation of Title 11 — the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education.
However, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said those guidelines were confusing and too difficult to implement.
“To the best of my knowledge, that was stalled, never fully implemented, and I think there were various reasons for that. Several legal reasons and several procedural reasons,” he said.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said it’s a decision best left up to the states.
Critics of Obama’s bathroom policy said it was government overreach, threatening other students’ privacy and safety — especially girls who did not feel safe changing clothes or using restrooms next to anatomical males.
Now that Trump canceled the measure Wednesday, there’s a whole new battle ahead.
“Donald Trump and his supporters would be better to become familiar with transgender individuals and what it truly means to be transgender, instead of promoting fear and ignorance,” Robert Joki said.
During his presidential campaign, Trump said transgender students should be allowed to use whichever bathroom “they feel is appropriate.” He reversed his stance after facing Republican criticism.
“I would hope that President Trump would just take a little more time to understand that there’s no threat there, and that’s what I think it is. People are fearful because they’re not totally informed,” said Youngstown Councilwoman Anita Davis.
Joki agreed, saying education is crucial.
“The most important thing we can do is educate ourselves and promote the education of the LGBTQ and minority in general issues, especially in the Youngstown area.”
A letter written to public schools this evening said anti-bullying safeguards would not be affected by the change. It wasn’t clear what the immediate impact this change would have on schools.
The Trump administration said there must be “due regard” for the role of states and local school districts in shaping education policy in schools.