Colorado students shouldn’t have to worry about new guidance from the Trump administration that rescinds federal protections for transgender students because of existing state law here.
Colorado lawmakers in 2008 passed a law that forbids discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity in public places — including schools.
That law was put to the test in 2013 when a 6-year-old transgender student in Fountain was denied access to a girls’ restroom. The Colorado Civil Rights Division ruled that Eagleside Elementary School violated Coy Mathis’s rights to use the restroom that best aligned with her gender identity.
The ruling was considered a landmark victory for transgender rights in the state and elsewhere.
In 2016, the Obama administration attempted to shore up protections for transgender students under Title IX, the federal statute that since 1972 has outlined protections for students based on sex.
But a federal court blocked the U.S. Department of Education from forcing schools to allow transgender students to use the restroom of their choice.
Now, the Trump administration is revoking those protections in a move announced Wednesday.
The result: protections for transgender students in some states, such as Colorado, but not in others. Thirty three states have no local laws protecting transgender students’ rights to use the restroom of their choice.
U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos — who reportedly urged Trump not to roll back the Obama-era protections — said in a statement the department was committed to protecting the rights of all students, but added the issue should be left to states and local school districts.
“Schools, communities, and families can find – and in many cases have found – solutions that protect all students,” she said. “We owe all students a commitment to ensure they have access to a learning environment that is free of discrimination, bullying and harassment.”
Civil rights groups were quick to criticize the new order.
“This is a serious attack by the Trump Administration on transgender students; opening them up to harassment, discrimination, and violence in their schools,” said One Colorado, the state’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocacy group. “No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at their school or college campus. Luckily, Colorado has been on the right side of this issue for years, by including sexual orientation and gender identity in its non-discrimination law, passed in 2008.”
Chalkbeat is a nonprofit news site covering educational change in public schools.