PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – The Oregon Department of Education has suggested that all transgender students in the state should be able to use whatever names, bathrooms and pronouns they want.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports that the department on Thursday released 15 pages of guidelines on issues that are likely to be controversial, including allowing transgender females who play girls sports and transgender men to wear tuxedos to prom.
The decision comes after the Dallas School District, west of Salem, asked Gov. Kate Brown for help in February. The district has been embroiled in controversy since last fall when Dallas High School’s principal agreed to let a transgender male use the boys’ locker room.
Parents and students in Dallas protested, but the district’s lawyer said they would likely lose the lawsuit that would come if they caved to community pressure.
‘Very thoughtful’ guidelines
Andrea Zekis, the policy director for the LGBTQ advocacy group Basic Rights Oregon, told KOIN 6 News these guidelines are very thoughtful.
“I’ve heard from school districts and they’ve reported school districts who just have been asking for guidance,” she said. “So this is a very thoughtful, wonderful first step to meet the needs of all students in school, to meet their needs for safety and privacy.”
She said transgender students are often misunderstood and face harrassment and violence.
These guidelines show, she said, “that transgender students are just students and they should be part of a fabric of our school districts and our cities and communites.”
Regarding bathroom use, she noted everyone has to be able to use the bathroom and transgender students “are often the victim of violence” in bathrooms.
“Schools can make accomodations when it comes to the safety and privacy of all their students, and that includes their transgender students.”
The sports guidelines are helpful as well, she said.
“Sports is a part of school and that if students are not given the opporunity to participate in sports or any kind of activity at school they’re being singled out,” Zekis said.
What people on the street say
Most of the people on the street who spoke with KOIN 6 News are in favor of these guidelines.
People told KOIN 6 News “it’s great,” “I fully support it,” and “it’s fairness.” One woman said, “Everybody is just going in there to pee. What’s the big deal?”
One person said it was “a complicated issue,” and one man said it was “a bunch of baloney.”
“I’m a hard-core conservative and I think that stuff stinks. Why the hell would you want to do that? You want your daughter in there with some wierdo?” he said.
“I think whatever you’re born with you should stay with.”
A group called Parents Rights in Education put a statement about the guidelines on Facebook. They claim there are “no legal grounds” to require schools to allow transgender students to use a bathroom or changing room of the opposite biological sex.