Schools, legislatures weigh conflicting policies for transgender students

Varying policy decisions leave trans student rights inconsistent from school district to school district.. File photo.

Greg White
Staff Writer

Albuquerque Public Schools is currently considering adopting new policies designed to protect transgender students from discrimination.

The APS Board of Education on Wednesday held a public forum to hear outside opinions on the proposed procedural directive, which would allow students who identify as transgender to use restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

The policy would also allow transgender students to dress according to their chosen gender identity and be addressed by the name and gender pronoun of their choosing.

Critics of the policy mainly focus on the bathroom issue, saying students may feel uncomfortable sharing a locker room with a transgender student, but supporters of the directive say transgender people aren't trying to expose themselves when they use the toilet.

The board is still considering the policy.

The consideration comes during a season marked by a myriad of policy and legislative proposals throughout the nation, which would leave trans student rights spotty and inconsistent from school district to school district.

For example, just last week The Gayly reported that parents and community members in Albany, Wyoming were calling for students to be required to use school facilities that correspond to their gender assigned at birth.

The Laramie Boomerang reported that more than 500 people signed a petition presented to Albany County School District No. 1 Board of Education that calls for the district to adopt a policy restricting the use of locker rooms and bathrooms to a person's biological sex.

The petition came after two draft policies were released to the public in December. One does not require students to use school facilities conflicting with their gender identity while the other does.

Yesterday, The Gayly reported that a Tennessee bill requiring transgender students to use bathrooms that match their sex at birth is gaining momentum in the Tennessee legislature after passing in a House subcommittee.

The bill is advancing despite opposition from the state's Republican governor, Bill Haslam. On Tuesday, the bill passed unanimously in the Education, Administration and Planning Subcommittee.

Republicans in support of the measure have said that it would protect the privacy of students. Rep. Mark White, a Republican from Memphis on the committee, said members had compassion for transgender kids but they had to create a balance while creating a law for all kids.

Just last month, the South Dakota Legislature passed a similar bill, which was later vetoed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard.

More and more school districts are beginning to grapple with how to deal with their transgender students, forming a patchwork of varying policies, some positive and some negative. The U.S. Department of Education has clearly stated since at least 2010 that transgender students are protected by Title IX. School districts that enact poor policies for their transgender students may face loss of federal funding.


The Associated Press contributed to this story.

The Gayly- 3/17/2016 @ 10:08 AM CST