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Bill would protect transgender rights in public schools

New York Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) on Jan.

New York Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) on Jan. 20, 2016. Credit: AP / Mike Groll


A bill was introduced Friday in Albany that would preserve and expand the rights of transgender public school students to use school restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities after action by the Trump administration this week.

The bill by Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) announced Friday comes after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia vowed to uphold the rights of transgender students under federal and state laws and policies that protect them from discrimination and harassment.

“Donald Trump’s cruel and inhumane decision to undermine Title IX protections for transgender children calls for swift action by New York to clarify and codify state law to ensure these kids feel safe in school,” Hoylman stated. “Studies show that trans children are at a higher risk for bullying and suicide attempts. . . . New York will protect these children from harassment.”

New York’s Education Department had provided guidelines to schools a year before the 2016 directive by the Democratic Obama administration, but the federal guidelines are more specific and seen as more strict than the state’s guidelines.

“We absolutely support protecting transgender students and ensuring equality,” Michael Whyland, spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx), said on Friday.

Candice Giove, spokeswoman for the Independent Democrat Conference that partners with Republicans in a majority coalition, said the IDC will strongly support transgender rights in schools.

“We will not allow the Trump administration to make any child feel unsafe in school,” Giove said.

There was no immediate comment from the Senate’s GOP conference.

On Wednesday, the Trump administration decided that interpretation of the provision of a federal anti-discrimination wasn’t a federal matter and that states should interpret the measure based in part with input from their communities.

“Schools, communities and families can find — and in many cases have found — solutions that protect all students,” said Trump education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

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