A state law prohibits discrimination in public schools based on gender identity or expression, among many other protected classes.
Washington’s public schools must allow students to use the bathroom or locker rooms that corresponds with their gender identity, even as the Trump administration lifts federal guidelines related to restroom access.
A state law prohibits discrimination in public schools based on gender identity or expression, among many other protected classes. Under that law, students can use the bathroom or locker room that matches their gender identity, and any student can have access to an alternative restroom or changing area, for any reason.
The alternative-bathroom option, the state superintendent’s office wrote in its state guidelines, means that students who may not feel comfortable sharing a facility with a transgender student have the option to use a separate bathroom. But no student who is transgender or gender nonconforming can be required to use a separate restroom.
Washington’s policy was in line with the Obama administration’s guidelines, which were put on a temporary hold after 13 states sued. Opponents have said the guidance was a federal overreach.
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Danni Askini, executive director of the Gender Justice League, a transgender justice group, said the White House announcement signals a trend that is “deeply concerning.” She said revoking federal guidelines sends the wrong message that could single out transgender students across the U.S.
“Transgender students are just trying to get an education, free from discrimination,” she said.
An estimated 3,100 kids between the ages of 13 and 17 identify as transgender in Washington, according to a study released last month by The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law. Askini noted that those students have been allowed to use the restrooms that correspond with their gender identity for years, without incident.
In addition to the state’s policies, several Seattle-area schools have gender-neutral bathrooms for students who may feel uncomfortable using men’s or women’s bathrooms. Students at West Seattle High School, for example, opened its first gender-neutral bathroom last year.