Obama administration orders directive to schools on transgender bathroom use; Indiana schools respond

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Local school districts are responding to a federal recommendation that all students be allowed to use the restroom of the gender they most identify with. The recommendation comes from the White House, and the Education and Justice Departments.

It does not carry the force of law, but it does warn schools that the government could sue if they don't comply - or cut off federal funds.

"Well, in Texas, he can keep his 30 pieces of silver. We will not yield to blackmail from the president of the Untied States," said Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick (R-Texas).

The directive comes amid a legal fight between the Justice Department and North Carolina over that state's law on bathroom use by transgender people. The state and the federal government sued each other on Monday.

Some Indiana schools are already taking steps to not discriminate against transgender students.

The guidelines are aimed at protecting the rights of transgender students and making the necessary accommodations. The guidelines require schools and universities to see a student's gender as they see themselves, not as they are seen on a birth certificate. It means making changes in restrooms, locker rooms, athletics and other extracurricular activities.

Lo is a college student who can't forget the fear of being in high school.
 
"I felt a constant state of fear. There were stares, pointing fingers, verbal harassment. Every day it was different, but there wasn't a day I wasn't scared.  And in the rest rooms or locker rooms?  Still scary," said Lo.

Lo was ridiculed and pushed around in the bathrooms.

Ean, a college student, asked we not use his last name. 

"I really wish this was around when I was in high school," Ean said. When he began his transition, Ean said he had to give up sports and other extracurricular activities and was told to use a rest room too far away to use during class changes.

"The school said I couldn’t use a male’s rest room because they couldn’t guarantee my safety. I couldn’t use the female’s rest room," he said.

IUPUI has already created 14 gender-neutral rest rooms. 

Public schools we contacted don't know how they will comply with these new guidelines until they see the letter from the president and get the actual details, although some are already making some accommodations. 

Indianapolis Public Schools released this statement:

Indianapolis Public Schools believes no student should feel unwelcome on their own campus; this philosophy was echoed by our national leaders in the U.S. Department of Education this week. As gender identity can be a delicate topic for students, families and staff, district leadership will continue thoughtful efforts to serve our students with sensitivity and fairness. We currently implement solutions on a case-by-case basis to ensure the rights and safety of all students are protected, and we will tailor our efforts as needed to address the directives of the U.S. Department of Education. The wellbeing of our students is paramount, and IPS will certainly follow the guidance of our national and state leadership.

Wayne Township Schools:
 

We are still awaiting the letter from President Obama regarding use of school bathrooms by transgender students. When we receive it we will certainly study it carefully and consider its implications for our district. It is our district policy that decisions regarding students and staff are made free from consideration of factors such as gender identification. 

Anderson Schools:
 

Per Superintendent Thompson: ACSC is conducting a facilities assessment as well as an assessment of whether this is a binding statement.  At this time there are no changes in our practice or policy.  ACSC will continue to honor those based on their biological birth.

Governor Mike Pence issued the following statement today regarding new guidelines issued by the Obama Administration regarding bathrooms in public schools:
 

"I have long believed that education is a state and local function. Policies regarding the security and privacy of students in our schools should be in the hands of Hoosier parents and local schools, not bureaucrats in Washington, DC. The federal government has no business getting involved in issues of this nature. I am confident that parents, teachers and administrators will continue to resolve these matters without federal mandates and in a manner that reflects the common sense and compassion of our state."

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