Trump administration reversal on transgender directive will not affect local policies

Feb 23, 2017

Credit freeimages.com/Joe Zlomek

LGBT advocates are denouncing and conservatives are praising the Trump administration's decision to lift Obama-era federal guidelines concerning transgender students.

The guidelines allowed students to use school bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding to their gender identities.

"It's on the forefront of people's minds, it happens often enough. I think people are generally questioning, is this going to change anything,” said Steve Carling, deputy general counsel for the Rochester City School District.

Rochester and other local school districts that provide support for transgender students are guided by New York State education policy, Carling said.

“We're pretty confident that in New York State, based on some of Governor Cuomo's comments, that we will not see a change in these policies; the way we've been administering them, at least."

The city school district provides emotional and social support and counseling for transgender students and their families, some of which is guided by the Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley.

Carling said not every student going through a gender transition even brings up the issue of special bathroom access, but for those who do, the district works with them to find the best solution.

"We found some students want to have a unisex option and we'll help provide that. We'll walk around the school and look at where the locker rooms are versus the gym, versus where a unisex facility might be. It's a very individualized decision making process. Every one of them is treated as unique, as they are."

Although the Obama directive was not legally binding, transgender rights advocates say it was necessary to protect students from discrimination.

Rochester city councilman Matt Haag called the Trump administration’s decision “deeply painful.”  Haag said transgender citizens and visitors are protected by the city’s non-discrimination policy.

Opponents of the prior Obama directive argued that it was federal overreach.