Trump administration’s transgender bathroom policy reversal leaves states, districts to decide

New Jersey, school districts to decide transgender bathroom access

New Jersey, school districts to decide transgender bathroom access (2/23/17)

VERNON - The Trump administration Wednesday reversed an Obama-era directive to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

The administration rescinded that guidance, saying the issue should be considered at the state and local level, not federal. The new policy will leave it up for individual states and school districts to decide on policy when dealing with transgender student bathroom use in schools.

Members of the transgender community and their supporters staged a protest outside the White House soon after the policy was announced. They say the Obama policy provided an extra level of protection for transgender students.

One Sussex County family tells News 12 New Jersey that they do not believe the policy change will impact their daughter directly, at least not immediately.

“We are blessed in a school district with excellent policy and know our daughter is protected at this time.  But it shouldn't be about luck,” says Jamie Bruesehoff.

Bruesehoff’s 10-year-old daughter Rebekah transitioned from boy to girl two years ago, when she was 8.  Rebekah goes to public school in Vernon Township, a district that has already enacted policy to protect transgender students.

“What it does tell us is that the [Trump administration] is pretty callously not supporting transgender students and not understanding what it means to be transgender in schools, and what those students need and how critical it is for them," Jamie Bruesehoff says.

Sources say Education Secretary Betsy DeVos originally opposed withdrawing the federal guidance.  But she publicly supported the president on the issue Thursday.

"This issue was a very huge example of the Obama administration's overreach,” DeVos told CNN. “To suggest one-size-fits-all, federal government approach…to issues that are best dealt with and solved at a personal level and at a local level."

The White House says that students will still be protected from harassment and discrimination despite the policy changes.

New Jersey lawmakers are currently considering a package of bills related to transgender issues.

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