Md. schools to review transgender policies

WASHINGTON — Maryland educators are reviewing their policies on protections for transgender students.

The move comes after President Trump decided to rescind the rules issued by the Obama administration that required schools to provide bathroom access based on a student’s gender identity.

William Reinhard, executive director of communications for Maryland’s State Department of Education, said that the current guidelines are under review, but that a change is not expected. The state’s guidelines on how schools should handle the needs of transgender students were issued before the Obama administration’s directive.

In Montgomery County, Superintendent Jack Smith joined Board of Education President Michael Durso in issuing a statement that school policy would not change in the wake of the Trump administration’s decision.

“The Montgomery County Board of Education and Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) reaffirm our commitment to providing a safe and welcoming learning environment for all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other personal characteristics,” read the statement.

The guidelines in Montgomery County state that transgender students are to be given access to facilities, including bathrooms and changing areas, that align with their gender identity. However, if a student is uncomfortable with that, they should be provided with “a safe and non-stigmatizing alternative arrangement.”

The mother of transgender twins, a woman identified to WTOP only as “Jessica” to protect her identity and that of her sons, called the Trump administration’s decision “very ridiculous.” Her 19-year-old twins are in the process of transitioning from girls to boys.

“When people are transgender, if they’ve already transitioned, they’re already using the bathroom of choice, and nobody really knows,” she said.

In August, Jessica and her sons, identified as Julian and Darrow, spoke to WTOP about the process of undergoing the transition process. At that time, Julian explained that every time he left home, he did a mental calculation. Would he have to use a public restroom? Would it be safe?

WTOP asked if that’s still the case.

“They do. As they’re transitioning, they’re getting more and more comfortable because they’re passing more and more as males.” Still, Jessica said, there are moments of anxiety “because they’re afraid of going into a bathroom and somebody beating them up.”

As a parent, Jessica said, the issue of who gets to use what bathroom is frustrating to her. She said the transgender community has to continually explain that gender identity and sexual preference are not the same.

When it comes to the issue of access to restrooms, Jessica said, there’s no agenda.

“The transgender people, they just want to go to the bathroom,” she said.


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