Education

Miami-Dade and Broward schools to keep protections for transgender students

In this May 17, 2016 file photo, a new sticker is placed on the door at the ceremonial opening of a gender neutral bathroom at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle.
In this May 17, 2016 file photo, a new sticker is placed on the door at the ceremonial opening of a gender neutral bathroom at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle. AP

The Miami-Dade and Broward school districts plan to keep protections for transgender students in place despite a change in federal policy.

On Wednesday, the Trump administration announced an end to federal protections that allowed transgender students to use school bathrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity. The administration is now leaving it up to states and school districts to determine such policies, lifting Obama-era federal guidelines that directed schools to treat students according to their gender identity, rather than their biological sex, or risk losing federal funds.

At the daily White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sean Spicer answered a question regarding the conflicts in the White House over a change to policy regarding transgender bathrooms in schools and other government buildings.

In South Florida, school administrators say LGBTQ students do not need to worry. Transgender students in Miami-Dade and Broward are still protected under the districts’ anti-discrimination policies, which were put in place before the Obama administration issued its directive last year.

“We will not allow any of our students to be pushed back into the dark corner of fear, intimidation, or discrimination,” Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said in a tweet.

The Miami-Dade school district meets with transgender students, their parents, school counselors and administrators to determine the best option in each individual case for bathroom use and other issues. “Our schools have been accommodating students on a case-by-case basis for many years, so it is unlikely that any type of impact would be experienced from any changes announced at the federal level,” said district spokeswoman Daisy Gonzalez-Diego.

The Broward school district also allows transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity and directs schools to make other accommodations, a policy they plan to keep.

“We have a moral obligation and a responsibility to protect all students from discrimination, bullying and harassment,” Broward Superintendent Robert Runcie said during a press conference on Thursday afternoon. “The bottom line for Broward County is that we will continue to respect, value and support the needs of our diverse students.”

At the county level, Miami-Dade vowed to continue protecting transgender residents. Mayor Carlos Gimenez said that the current protection policies, passed in 2014, would remain in effect. “We are an inclusive community, and have policies in place to protect our LGBT residents,” he said in a statement.

Kyra Gurney: 305-376-3205, @KyraGurney

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