The Trump administration’s reversal on the transgender bathroom directive is causing both relief and controversy across the country.
The directive was put into place last year by President Obama and said schools should provide special protection for transgender students in restrooms.
But, last night the Department of Justice, along with the Department of Education, released a statement saying it’s up to the States whether or not to make those protections.
Harrold Superintendent David Thweat said they will continue to have the same policies in place as before which is to go off of what’s on the student’s birth certificate, but one Wichita Falls trans woman maintains the whole issue is trans people getting the right to be able to use the bathroom safely. And she said the decision by the Trump administration jeopardizes that.
“There’s nothing to fear and we’re like anyone else,” said Zoey L.
Zoey hosts a transgender support group in Wichita Falls. She said she never felt like she identified with the gender she was assigned. Because of that, she said her childhood and teenage years were filled with being bullied and emotional distress that followed. And on one instance, she said she was raped inside a boys locker room.
“That point forward I was tasked with changing my gym clothes in the janitor’s closet for the rest of the time that I was in junior high,” Zoey said. “That has stuck with me for a very long time.”
And she said her fear is that the decision by the Trump administration will lead to more difficult experiences for trans students in schools.
Thweatt said although he can’t comment on the federal court case, he said the decision by the Trump administration is encouraging and a step in the right direction for the case.
“A lot of issues are boiling down to local control versus federal or state control and this is one of those things that I’m glad that someone is agreeing with us at least on this case to say this is what we need in our communities,” Thweatt said.
Congressman Mac Thornberry also agrees with the Trump administration.
“That’s a great example where the federal government should never be involved in telling local school systems how to regulate bathrooms,” Thornberry said. “Surely to goodness, local administrators and school boards working with parents and teachers can figure out bathrooms.”
“This is social rejection at a huge level,” said Ashley McErlean a licensed marriage and family Therapist Associate. “This is coming from the top saying we reject your identity. I can only image message that this is sending and how this is going to affect people. This is a slap in the face. This is basically the government saying you can’t count on us to protect your rights.”
McErlean specializes in the LGBT community, and said research shows transgender youth in particular are at an increased risk for depression and suicide because of social rejection.
“I’ll drink very little water and that day almost nothing just so that I don’t have to use the bathroom,” Zoey said.
Zoey believes the research is true and although Wichita Falls has made some strides in acceptance and she said she’ll continue to live in fear.
Statement from Attorney General Ken Paxton:
AUSTIN – Lt. Governor Dan Patrick issued this statement today following the announcement that President Donald Trump will rescind the edict by former President Barack Obama mandating that public schools no longer designate separate restrooms for boys and girls and prohibiting public schools from providing individual accommodation for transgender students.
“We agree with President Trump that this is a state issue, which is why Senator Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, and I have crafted a state policy — the Texas Privacy Act (Senate Bill 6) which ensures that public schools continue to designate separate restrooms, locker rooms and showers for boys and girls as well as allowing schools to continue to determine how they will accommodate students with individual needs, as they have always done.
“SB6 also protects private businesses from being forced by a local government to adopt any kind of restroom, locker room or shower policy and requires government buildings to continue to designate separate restrooms, locker rooms and showers for men and women.
“SB 6 does not discriminate against anyone. It is a common sense, privacy and public safety policy for everyone.
“SB 6 continues to have strong support from the people of Texas in both political parties and every racial and ethnic group.”