COLUMBUS (WCMH)–Columbus City Schools says its policy of gender identity non-discrimination was in place long before the federal government recommended that schools allow transgender students to use facilities consistent with their chosen gender identity.
Public schools must permit transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity, according to an Obama administration directive issued amid a court fight between the federal government and North Carolina.
The U.S. Department of Justice/Department of Education letter addressed to “Dear Colleague” reads: “When a school provides sex-segregated activities and facilities, transgender students must be allowed to participate in such activities and access such facilities consistent with their gender identity.”
“There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement accompanying the directive, which is being sent to school districts Friday.
Columbus City Schools superintendent Dr. Dan Good says transgender students at CCS already have access to facilities according to their gender identity. He says the president’s guidelines might make it easier down the line — but he says it’s the district’s job to protect students and staff from discrimination in any form.
Two years ago, Columbus City Schools updated its non-discrimination and policy to read “The Columbus Board of Education does not discriminate based upon race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, color, national origin, age, gender identity, or expression…”
Bexley Schools also passed similar legislation in April, which reads in part:
“Bexley City Schools staff shall accept a student’s asserted gender identity when it is a sincerely held part of the student’s core identity. Staff shall not disregard the student’s assertion of their gender identity unless they have a credible basis for believing that the student is asserting a particular gender identity for an improper purpose.”
The school system also mentions bathrooms and locker rooms:
“Students shall have access to the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity. A student shall not be required to use gender-segregated facilities that are inconsistent with their gender identity.”
The federal administration is also releasing a separate 25-page document of questions and answers about best practices , including ways schools can make transgender students comfortable in the classroom and protect the privacy rights of all students in restrooms or locker rooms.
The move was cheered by Human Rights Campaign, a gay, lesbian and transgender civil rights organization, which called the guidelines “groundbreaking.”
“This is a truly significant moment not only for transgender young people but for all young people, sending a message that every student deserves to be treated fairly and supported by their teachers and schools,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement.
The guidance comes days after the Justice Department and North Carolina filed dueling lawsuits over a new state law that says transgender people must use public bathrooms, showers and changing rooms that correspond to the sex on their birth certificate. The administration has said the law violates the Civil Rights Act.What others are clicking on: