CT lawmakers, colleges respond to national transgender bathroom - WFSB 3 Connecticut

CT lawmakers, colleges respond to national transgender bathroom recommendation

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(CBS photo) (CBS photo)

Transgender bathroom access is expected to be the hot topic at schools across the country on Friday.

The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice is recommending all public schools treat transgender students in a way that matches their chosen gender identity.

On Friday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy released a statement on the issue and said more information is important "to ensure that all students, including transgender students, can attend school in an environment free from discrimination based on sex." 

“Discrimination, harassment, and bullying have no place in our classrooms and at our schools.  Every child, no matter their gender identity, should be treated equally and fairly in a safe, supportive environment," Malloy said. "I want to applaud the Obama administration – this guidance will help give educators the tools they need when setting a school policy that provides a safe learning environment for all.  While some espouse and support division, we believe in inclusiveness, and we believe that diversity makes us stronger.”

Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman also released a statement on the issue. 

“All students should have the opportunity to high-quality, safe schools that respect and inspire them as learners and as young people.  I commend President Obama and the Departments of Education and Justice for issuing specific guidelines to protect the civil rights – and human rights – of transgender students," Wyman said. "The strength of our communities, our workforce, and our nation lies in our young people, modeling integrity and equality is the right thing to do.”

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy also released a statement on "a new final rule by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on ensuring civil rights for transgender Americans."

“Schools and doctors’ offices should be safe places for everyone. No one should be discriminated against or harassed because of their gender identity or sexual orientation," Murphy said. "Today’s guidance by the Obama administration is an important step in that direction. I’ll keep fighting in Congress to ensure strong civil rights protections for all LGBTQ Americans.”

Connecticut State Colleges and Universities president Mark Ojakian issued a statement on the recommendation.

"We are fortunate to live in Connecticut, a state that has led the fight against all forms of discrimination and implements inclusive policies that welcome all members of society," he said. "Part of the unique value at CSCU is the diversity of our student population. I want to send a clear message to existing and future students that we do not tolerate discrimination at any level. I have been consistently vocal about our commitment to provide a safe learning environment that encourages and celebrates diversity and fosters a culture of inclusion. We are grateful for the U.S. Department of Education and Justice’s guidance as it falls in line with our policies, our history and our philosophy."

The Obama administration said it had questions from school districts and colleges around the country on how to best serve their students, including those who are transgender.

While the directive is not bound by law, it said there will be consequences if school districts do not comply.

The guidance comes in the same week the justice department took legal action against the state of North Carolina over its law limiting the use of public restrooms to the gender on a person's birth certificate.

"They created state-sponsored discrimination against transgender individuals who simply seek to engage in the most private of functions," said U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. 

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory has fielded his own lawsuit.

"We believe a court rather than a federal agency should tell our state what the law requires," he said.

A copy of the Departments of Education's letter is here.

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