The Trump administration recently announced a plan to change the current transgender bathroom policies, which would reverse federal guidelines that require public schools in America to allow students to use the restroom that matched their gender identity.
If the change is implemented, it will be up to individual states and school districts to enforce bathroom policies for transgender students.
Newly-elected Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, issued a statement acknowledging the responsibility for the U.S. Department of Education to protect all students’ rights.
“This is an issue best solved at the state and local level. Schools, communities and families can find – and in many cases have found – solutions that protect all students,” DeVos said in a Title IX statement.
The Anchorage School District released revised administrative guidelines concerning transgender and nonconforming students and employees.
The purpose of the guidelines is to foster a welcoming learning and working environment that is free from discrimination, harassment and bullying, regardless of sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or gender expression.
Heather Marron, ASD spokesperson, said in an email that schools in the Anchorage area will remain accepting of all student’s identities.
“The Anchorage School District remains a safe and welcoming place for all students. ASD has transgender accommodation administrative guidelines in place and has for some time. These guidelines will not change. ASD embraces all students and remains committed to providing a safe, productive learning environment,” Marron said.
LGBT students will remain protected by ASD and under Title IX — the law that protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities.
Sarah Hyland, a former UAA student and transgender woman, shared the importance of protecting the transgender community, especially those that are school-aged.
“The entire argument to deny transpeople access to the bathroom demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of what is involved in transitioning, and that it isn’t about transpeople using the bathroom, it’s about transpeople existing in public spaces,” Hyland said. “There are transpeople that avoid drinking fluids so they don’t have to use the public restroom or some that hold it so long they develop health issues like urinary tract infections. Imagine trying to plan your day around bathroom usage.”
Hyland stressed that the current political climate makes life more dangerous for transpeople, as she has frequently witnessed people being degraded for being different.
“How do we expect people to react when we tell them they aren’t worth protecting? That is the message we send when protections are denied or rolled back. We are all human beings and deserve the same rights,” Hyland said.
MoHagani Magnetek, a former TNL employee and transgender woman, advocates for the protection and equality of members of the transgender community who desire the right to be able to use the restroom without incident.
“I feel contrite for the young people across the nation who must go to school under hostile conditions. Shaming and ridicule are the least of concerns when children also have to face the very real possibility of physical violence. Transgender students are often easy targets for the misogynistic, sexist and violently prone members of our society,” Magnetek said. “Forcing our young people to utilize a gender specified restroom that they do not identify with is putting them at risk for harassment, sexual assault and murder. As an adult, I have accepted the risk of being in an unfriendly place, but for the young transgender children it is a more difficult challenge to confront.”
Hyland and Magnetek agree that the discrimination against transpeople is inhumane and that the presidential administration and public need to be better aware of who these people actually are.
Anchorage residents should not be fearful of inequality, as ASD is in full support of welcoming the transgender community and offering equal lavatory rights.