AUSTINTOWN, Ohio (WYTV) – Transgender students no longer have federal protections allowing them to use school bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identities.
The Trump administration has come down on the side of states’ rights, lifting Obama-era guidelines on the issue. It will now be up to states and school districts to decide the issue of bathroom access.
Local schools are handling the decision the same way they handled the last one – by responding with care. The guidelines mean very little if any change, locally. Some local school districts with transgender students have made accommodations, providing a family or unisex restroom and that’s worked.
Austintown Superintendent said one of the issues they face is what to do on school trips, which involves transgender students traveling to play in the band or on sports teams.
“Biggest impact on us is we are going to work with individual families when it comes to school-related issues, and probably the biggest one we’ve had to face is going on our trips,” Colaluca said.
Colaluca said the goal is the same as it has always been and that’s meeting the needs of the student and their families.
“Regardless of whether it’s about transgender or a family issue, we are going to sit down with the families and provide resources for any type of help that they need,” Colaluca said.
Other changes schools are making is switching from just one color of gown for graduation instead of one for boys and one for girls, or just allowing the transgender students to pick the color which they would associate with and not worry about the student’s birth certificate.
“They came and asked and it was an easy accommodation. Not going to go against a family wish. We are not that staunch that we have to do things this way because we’ve done it for 50 years. I think we need to change with the times and listen to the kids,” Colaluca said.
The students and their families have proven to be very understanding and accepting as long as the superintendents work with them.
Superintendents have talked about the Every Student Succeeds Act, which revised the No Child Left Behind measure from 2002.
“We would like more of the state and federal decisions to come back to the local government. We have boards of education and they should be the ones making those decisions,” Colaluca said.
One of the biggest decisions ahead involves sports and allowing an athlete to compete against the sexual identity that they identify with. That will be a decision which has to be made at the state level by the OHSAA.