Transgender bathrooms in schools? Really, folks? This is what worries you?

The Trump administration undid protections for transgender students put in place by the Obama White House. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

Why are community protests erupting over transgender bathrooms in schools? The safety threats being alleged are hypothetical with no basis in reality. 

The only complaint I’ve ever directly heard about gender issues and school lavatories in Georgia came from a grandfather unhappy with a co-ed restroom in his grandchild’s pre-school classroom. That single complaint in 1996 led to a bill in the General Assembly outlawing unisex bathrooms for preschoolers. In the brief debate, House members discussed whether it’s a sin for a 3-year-old to see another in the bathroom.

By the way, the debate and the bill itself garnered exactly one line in the AJC 10 years ago. In today’s climate, it would explode into a national story.

Last night community members packed a school board meeting in Fannin County to protest what they saw as the danger of transgender students in school restrooms. Speakers argued it was a safety issue.

If Fannin wanted to deal with actual safety threats to children, it – and every other Georgia county – would focus on kids texting while driving and the use of drugs and alcohol. That’s what’s endangering children.

Who writes the scripts for these imaginary crises and how does everyone know their part? Are there three guys in a basement plotting what fake controversy will rile up people and then using social media to hype it? If so, I wish this committee for chaos could energize folks around math performance, literacy and graduation rates. If community members are going to march on schools boards as they did last night in Blue Ridge, let it be about something that matters.

That said, the federal government is now addressing the issue, maintaining in a “guidance” released today that schools, under Title IX, must ensure transgender students can use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their chosen gender identity.

The federal action comes in response to a North Carolina law enacted in March prohibiting Charlotte and other cities from passing any ordinances protecting the rights of LGBT people. Earlier this week, the Justice Department warned North Carolina that it could lose millions federal funding by discriminating against transgender people in bathroom access.

The federal stance is drawing fire.

Jeremy Tedesco, senior counsel for the nonprofit legal foundation Alliance Defending Freedom, said, “The administration’s new guidelines simply reinforce what has been abundantly clear already—that it has a political goal of forcing women to share restrooms and locker rooms with men across the nation and will spread falsehoods about federal law to achieve its aims. This is precisely why we have filed two federal lawsuits, one in Illinois and one in North Carolina, on behalf of parents and students who are understandably concerned about their children. Solutions exist to accommodate everyone without violating anyone’s privacy rights, but the administration won’t entertain those solutions because of its preference to unlawfully impose its political will through threats and intimidation.”

Here is the joint U.S. Departments of Education and Justice statement released today:

The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice released joint guidance today to help provide educators the information they need to ensure that all students, including transgender students, can attend school in an environment free from discrimination based on sex.

Recently, questions have arisen from school districts, colleges and universities, and others about transgender students and how to best ensure these students, and non-transgender students, can all enjoy a safe and discrimination-free environment.

Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, schools receiving federal money may not discriminate based on a student’s sex, including a student’s transgender status. The guidance makes clear that both federal agencies treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX.

“No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus,” said U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. “This guidance further clarifies what we’ve said repeatedly – that gender identity is protected under Title IX. Educators want to do the right thing for students, and many have reached out to us for guidance on how to follow the law. We must ensure that our young people know that whoever they are or wherever they come from, they have the opportunity to get a great education in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and violence.”

“There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex,” said Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. “This guidance gives administrators, teachers, and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies. I look forward to continuing our work with the Department of Education – and with schools across the country – to create classroom environments that are safe, nurturing, and inclusive for all of our young people.”

“Our federal civil rights law guarantees all students, including transgender students, the opportunity to participate equally in school programs and activities without sex discrimination as a core civil right,” said Department of Education Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Catherine E. Lhamon. “This guidance answers questions schools have been asking, with a goal to ensure that all students are treated equally consistent with their gender identity.  We look forward to continuing to work with schools and school communities to satisfy Congress’ promise of equality for all.”

“Every child deserves to attend school in a safe, supportive environment that allows them to thrive and grow. And we know that teachers and administrators care deeply about all of their students and want them to succeed in school and life,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Our guidance sends a clear message to transgender students across the country: here in America, you are safe, you are protected and you belong – just as you are.  We look forward to working with school officials to make the promise of equal opportunity a reality for all of our children.”

The guidance explains that when students or their parents, as appropriate, notify a school that a student is transgender, the school must treat the student consistent with the student’s gender identity. A school may not require transgender students to have a medical diagnosis, undergo any medical treatment, or produce a birth certificate or other identification document before treating them consistent with their gender identity.

The guidance also explains schools’ obligations to:

  • Respond promptly and effectively to sex-based harassment of all students, including harassment based on a student’s actual or perceived gender identity, transgender status, or gender transition;
  • Treat students consistent with their gender identity even if their school records or identification documents indicate a different sex;
  • Allow students to participate in sex-segregated activities and access sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity; and
  • Protect students’ privacy related to their transgender status under Title IX and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

At the same time, the guidance makes clear that schools can provide additional privacy options to any student for any reason. The guidance does not require any student to use shared bathrooms or changing spaces, when, for example, there are other appropriate options available; and schools can also take steps to increase privacy within shared facilities.

In addition to the Departments’ joint Title IX guidance, the Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education also released Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students, a compilation of policies and practices that schools across the country are already using to support transgender students. The document shares some common questions on topics such as school records, privacy, and terminology, and then explains how some state and school district policies have answered these questions, which may be useful for other states and school districts that are considering these issues. In this document, the Education Department does not endorse any particular policy, but offers examples from actual policies to help educators develop policies and practices for their own schools.

Many parents, schools, and districts have raised questions about this area of civil rights law. Together, these documents will help navigate what may be a new terrain for some.

The mission of ED’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) is to ensure equal access to education and promote educational excellence throughout the nation through the vigorous enforcement of civil rights. OCR is responsible for enforcing federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination by educational institutions on the basis of race, color, national origin, disability, sex and age, as well as the Boy Scouts of America Equal Access Act of 2001. Additional information about OCR is available here.

 

Reader Comments 0

868 comments
Kevin Vignali
Kevin Vignali

I don't know why this is such an unexplained and confused matter about transgender bathroom use. We were born on this earth with what we have. And what we have is what we suspect we are suposed to use. If people are confused on that fact that they are one gender, I really don't know what to say to them. I read an article a few years bacl that talked about the process in which one will change their gender with surgery. The doctors who studied the disorder that this surgury is linked with has a very odd connection with those of other incidents. A man had a disorder in which it was arousing and to him felt nessesary to remove his limbs with surgury. Doctors questioned him and asked why he wanted his limbs removed and came to the conclusion that removing his limbs for the reason he stated should not be nessesary. He was healthy and if he did go through the surgury it would be wasteful to surgically remove a well intact limb. Well where do transgenders fall in this category? Turn out that transgender in fact have a similar disorder and in my opinion should be medically treated the same way the man was treated... THERAPY! Yes indeed therapy. Why? Because we have people who want to not only remove their limbs , but want to change their bodies to look like cows and other animals and people who want to have horse legs. Why are transgenders any different? They have a disorder, and doctors should medically treat them the same way they do everyone with a disorder. If doctors did that then we wouldn't have this transgender problem. And if thereapy doesn't pull through, then by all means of you have a penis you go to the men's room. If you have a vagina you go to the women's room. No questions answered. I don't care how you look but I don't want chicks to pretend they are dudes just to look at my penis in the men's room. This violates American privacy and it needs to stop.

Cubb RK
Cubb RK

"There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind..." Says Loretta Lynch. Well I am a natural born female and I do NOT want to share a bathroom with a man just because he is a "confused gender". So where did MY rights go? They insist I am to feel uncomfortable and unsafe in a restroom to pacify a transgender, with NO REGARD to MY rights as a citizen!  Why is it that all the rights of discrimination only apply to "confused people" and the rest of us must suffer because of THEIR complaints and syndromes? There are two genders born.....MALE and FEMALE.! If you are confused, then have your surgery, but change ALL body parts so the rest of us don't have to be confused as to who or what you are! WE, as natural born, normally born human beings are being discriminated against, and if we "squeak a peep of complaint", we are discriminated further and accused of homophobia, or racism, or whatever new term the government can come up with. I am SICK OF IT ! Some dogs think and act like they're human. Shall we allow THEM to use our public restrooms as well? I know of many cats who can use a toilet! So we may as well go for that, as well ! Get a grip, America! Insist the government stay out of such STUPID issues, and leave things the way they have always been.  NATURAL and NORMAL !

Janie Henry Bingham
Janie Henry Bingham

That's not the problem. The problem is perverts pretending to be transgender to gain legal access to victims.

Ronald Suttles
Ronald Suttles

BEST WAY TO PROTECT THE CHILDREN, MAKE THE REPUBLICAN MEN USE THEIR OWN SEPARATE RESTROOM!!!

Jeff Bell
Jeff Bell

If a man ever walks in the bathroom behind my daughter or wife I'm going in to get them out and not in a nice way.

Ginger Marshall
Ginger Marshall

People like you are why I am now armed and practice and am alert. I expect you wouldn't give me a second look - men hold doors and such for me all the time. But you'll harass or threaten some innocent person in my presence and you'll be on the floor waiting for an ambulance. You're the danger to women and transwoman. You're not a hero.

Edmundo Guerrero
Edmundo Guerrero

We dont obligate transgender people to choose who they want to be, why our kids have to observe and be in the restroom someone that doesnt belong there doing their bussiness. Whats next teaching kids that its fine to get violated by a transgender person.

Betsy Puckett
Betsy Puckett

As we are all entitled to our opinions, I really wish the government would stay out of our schools!

Edward David Prine
Edward David Prine

What if a teacher is trans who wants there male teacher in with there first grader stall

Gabriela McCann
Gabriela McCann

Every human being deserves to use a bathroom safely, including people with profound and multiple learning disabilities, as well as spinal injuries, spina bifida, motor neuron disease, multiple sclerosis or an acquired brain injury. Non-ambulatory persons suffering from incontinence and requiring diaper changes, as well as complete and total care, by a caregiver (parent, nurse, aide) do not have the appropriate handicapped accessible bathroom facilities in public places, that meet their most basic needs. Not having these accommodations and modifications is a huge barrier in getting people with disabilities, out in the community. Currently, public restrooms are equipped with non-functional toilets and small changing tables, fit for infants and toddlers. Airports, hotels, malls, stores, parks, tourist attractions, movie theaters, schools, medical offices and hospitals (even children’s hospitals) do not provide the appropriate restroom facilities for persons with severe disabilities. Many adults and children with disabilities, along with their caregivers, struggle daily with this problem. No human being deserves to be confined to the four walls of their home, nor should they be subjected to being openly displayed in a public place, on the ground [at a park] or in a parking lot or be laid down on a dirty restroom floor, while getting a diaper change; nor should they suffer sitting in their soiled diaper for any amount of time, simply because there are no appropriate changing facilities available for their use. Every public place, within every community, across the United States of America, should be handicapped accessible, with 36-inch-wide doorways to allow for passage by an individual in a wheelchair. Standard accessible public restrooms should already be equipped with appropriate grab bars and a comfortable toilet that is approximately the same height as a chair, 16 - 17 inches above the floor. These restrooms do not meet the needs of every individual with a disability or their caregiver. Public restrooms (a family restroom or at least one restroom stall) in all public entities should be equipped with a height adjustable adult-sized changing table/bench, a tracking hoist system and enough space (for a wheelchair) in a safe and clean environment. We need to treat all individuals with disabilities with respect, and the dignity they deserve. We need to ensure the ADA civil rights law that was enacted in 1990 to protect them, is enforced. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a civil rights law that prohibits discrimination against individuals with disabilities in all areas of public life, including jobs, schools, transportation, and all public and private places that are open to the general public. The purpose of the law is to make sure that people with disabilities have the same rights and opportunities as everyone else. The ADA gives civil rights protections to individuals with disabilities similar to those provided to individuals on the basis of race, color, sex, national origin, age, and religion. It guarantees equal opportunity for individuals with disabilities in public accommodations, employment, transportation, state and local government services, and telecommunications. PLEASE SIGN AND SHARE: 100,000 signatures are needed by June 18th for a response from the White House. https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/petition/ada-install-adult-changing-tables-public-restrooms-incontinent-individuals-severe-disabilities

Mickey Stover
Mickey Stover

ajc,,,,,,,,,, you got schooled on this one,,,,,,,,,,,,,, big time

Mike Williford
Mike Williford

What Curtis Pace said! Growing up if I made a bad choice, my peers displayed disappointment which made me have to at least think about it. Nowadays... Do not do that! You could scar their precious little ego

Felicia Harris
Felicia Harris

Can you say The Roman Catholic Empire reborn in 2009....can you see the connection.... Smh

Margie Hilley
Margie Hilley

Once again the media doesn't care about majority opinions but are adhering to very liberal agenda!

Marti Dayton
Marti Dayton

AJC.....it is evident you have no Idea of the ramifications of this policy. I wouldnt want my little girl having to shower along with a boy. And much worse... Pedifiles taking advantage of this policy.... I am outraged at your post and will not buy your paper again now that I know where you stand. And I hope others will join me!

Michael Roberson
Michael Roberson

Haters need somebody to hate so now they look for any minority that fits their needs.

Heather Francis Parks
Heather Francis Parks

can we just make a single stall restroom available and solve this whole stupid issue? one toilet. one door with a lock. one person at a time. then no one has to share anything with anyone and everyone can shut the hell up arguing about this.

Heather Francis Parks
Heather Francis Parks

and just to clarify, i am the parent of a trans 18 year old and have lived with this issue for half my life....and even i'm sick of hearing about this!!

Christina Jones
Christina Jones

I think that being trans is something you need to be at least in high school to decide on. I'm no expert, but that's a life altering decision and seems like a bit much for a child to decide. Also just because a boy likes things that society says are for girls doesn't necessarily mean he wants to be a girl. He can just be a boy who likes dolls and dressing up like a princess. At what point do you decide that a 6 year old is trans? But that said, if there was some kid who was trans, it wouldn't bother me if they wanted to used the bathroom. Girls get jumped by girls in bathrooms all the time. A girl in Delaware just died because girls attacked her in the school restroom. That's a much bigger concern. There's may be one trans kid in the restroom who's going to pee and leave, but that doesn't bother me as much as some crazy children who attack other children.

Ginger Marshall
Ginger Marshall

Christina - this isn't something "decided," like "I want to be a fireman." It is in the very essential identity, and most kids start declaring their gender "I'm a boy" or "I'm a girl" between 3 and 5 years old.

Edmundo Guerrero
Edmundo Guerrero

So imagine getting them more confuse by letting a transgender entering the wrong restroom.

Wally Moryl
Wally Moryl

Guns in Thug hands OK but not in Legal Owners , Black Lives Matter " NOT POLICE " , wonder of Transgender Rights Not Majority ,Pass them in Schools don't bother Educating etc. , etc. .

Cindy Thompson
Cindy Thompson

Keep each gender in their own bathroom!!!! Then reporters need to keep their mouth shut!!! I have grand children and shudder at the thought of the opposite sex coming in on them... If I c it , war is on!!!!!

Patrick Graboski
Patrick Graboski

goes beyond just the bathroom my friend, they have stalls. how about the locker room, were you shower and change? there is the other person's rights too. just something to think about

Jim Eason
Jim Eason

A distraction created by politicians who have no clue about how to solve our real problems, but want to get re-elected.

Gris Julian GP
Gris Julian GP

I originally liked AJC because I was born and raised in Atlanta and I missed my hometown. But, I do remember a time when this newspaper was not a media windsock.

Tracey Dill
Tracey Dill

So, where do we think transgender people used the bathrooms before? They didn't suddenly start using public restrooms.

Jeff Marc Meeks
Jeff Marc Meeks

SO does COX Media or th AJC have a trans bathroom policy?Maybe look in you rown house before posting and bashing on those peopel who have a different belief.You wonder why your home delivery is next to nothing

Trineke GodzGift Sample
Trineke GodzGift Sample

Wow are you this ignorant do you have children at all do you trust everyone goes in your bathroom

Tammy Brookover Jay
Tammy Brookover Jay

What worries me is when media supports an agenda rather than just reporting a story.

Steven Wilkins
Steven Wilkins

So why is it a big deal to have them use the bathrooms for the gender on their birth certificate?? Why all of a sudden since caitlyn Jenner is the whole world worries about transgenders?? Why now? Why not when Cher's daughter/son transformed? No one cared then

Gerald Taylor
Gerald Taylor

I keep saying its not the Transgenders we're worried about

Michael Fisher
Michael Fisher

Or the biggest threat to our country... The government and all its officers and officials...

Valarie Robertson Drake
Valarie Robertson Drake

AJC I thought your purpose was to report news. I didn't realize it's you job to report biased opinions. Transgendered youth choosing a restroom isn't what most of the uproar is about. It's the way the guidelines are worded. I don't think giving a bunch of teenagers a license and excuses to make bad decisions is a good idea.

Valarie Robertson Drake
Valarie Robertson Drake

No, they are biased because of the way the headline read. As in the bathroom situation is nothing to worry about compared to the other dangers teens face. Okay?

Ginger Marshall
Ginger Marshall

So they're biased because they aren't reporting your opinion. Okay.

James Wells
James Wells

It's an OPINION column. It even says BLOG in the link. Newspapers have always had editorials.

Valarie Robertson Drake
Valarie Robertson Drake

My apologies. I didn't realize this was yet another opinion editorial. I went back and read the article again and saw the category said opinion- bullying- education. As an adult I have no problem realizing a mistake and apologizing.

Debbie Hogan
Debbie Hogan

Okay it is an opinion! Let's hear a rebuttal opinion. But you always just see one side with AJC... They are a biased, liberal rag bag...

Mark Cosby
Mark Cosby

Say it with me: "Ed-i-tor-i-al".

Allicia Butler
Allicia Butler

All of it worries me...how about that? One is no better than the other.