WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has directed public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.
Three area school board leaders say that while the directive is new, the issue is not, and schools have been handling it.
“Basically our schools, high schools more than middle schools, have been dealing with this on a low-key, case-by-case basis,” said Montgomery County School Board President Michael Durso.
Ryan Sawyers, the president of the Prince William County School Board, said the issue has been in the county’s attention since a Gloucester County transgender student brought a discrimination case to court and the Fourth Circuit recently ruled in his favor.
“This is not something totally unexpected or that we’re totally unprepared for,” Sawyers said.
Dr. Segun Eubanks, chair of the Prince George’s County Board of Education, said in a statement that the school system “has been following transgender guidelines from the Maryland State Department of Education received last fall, and will respond accordingly once we receive new guidance from the U.S. Department of Education on this issue/”
Durso said the Obama administration directive reinforces what Montgomery County schools have been doing, and it may provide guidance that some school systems need.
“I think it helps,” said Durso, “I don’t think it’s necessarily going to be a cure-all,” suggesting it may encourage opponents of the directive to dig in their heels.
Sawyers says the legal ramifications of the latest federal directive remain unclear, and it will be reviewed to do what’s best for Prince William County.
“I don’t have a problem with any student or any employee using the bathroom of their choice,” Sawyers said.