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Michigan Allows Students To Use Restrooms Without Harassment

September 21, 2016

Shocker in Michigan, isn’t it? Allowing students to just use the restroom however they see fit? Guess the Michigan board governing schools stated that transgender students get support to use the bathroom they feel they need to use.

Wednesday afternoon, the Michigan Board of Education voted 6–2 to approve a new set of guidelines for the state’s schools that protect LGBTQ students from harassment and ensure that they are respected in accordance with their gender identity.

The Board first considered a draft of the guidance back in March and received incredible pushback from conservatives. They made some revisions, but the final approved version still provides robust protections for LGBTQ students. These include:

  • Schools must explicitly protect students from any kind of harassment or discrimination based on their sexual orientation, gender identity, and/or gender expression.

  • All district staff and even board members should be trained about issues impacting LGBTQ students.

  • Schools should support the formation of gay-straight alliances.

  • Curricula should be inclusive of LGBTQ topics.

  • Students who come out as transgender should have their gender identity respected, including the name and pronouns they use, the facilities they use, and the athletic teams on which they play.

It’s not all roses from Michigan lawmakers, because this is Michigan, after all. Republicans dominate the legislature, and Republicans have been synonymous with gender bias as of late. Michigan Republicans didn’t stay quiet:

Some Republican state lawmakers suggested legislation this summer resembling North Carolina’s HB2 that would impose restrictions on transgender students. Though the legislature is controlled by Republicans, the bill was originally sent to a committee where it was expected to die, but it’s unclear if the Board’s actions might catalyze a new interest among conservative lawmakers who want to reverse the policy.

The vote followed several hours of heated public testimony, including from state Sen. Patrick Colbeck (R), who warned that the guidelines will open school districts to lawsuits, and from state Sen. Gary Glenn (R), who described transgender children as “suffering the delusion they are of the opposite sex.”

Suffering really is the element that lawmakers miss when it comes to transgender students, the fact that they would be suffering at the hands of bullies. But, I reiterate, if there is need for privacy in the bathroom, which everyone needs, regardless of gender association, why not make bathrooms more private?

Hurrah for the Michigan Education Board. Let’s see a few more protections like this. School should not be a place where administrators get to determine what is someone else’s pants.

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