OK Leaders, Schools React To New Guidelines For Transgender Students

Friday, May 13th 2016, 7:29 pm
By: Emory Bryan

Some Oklahoma politicians reacted strongly to new guidelines from Washington D.C.

Those guidelines tell schools to allow transgender students full access to programs and facilities based on gender identity - even if that conflicts with a student’s gender at birth.

Tulsa and some suburban schools already have the policy, and Friday, much of the reaction focused on not wanting the federal government telling Oklahomans what to do.

The White House said the new guidelines are simply suggestions on facing the issue within the law.

White House spokesman, John Earnest said, "It's actually to ensure that our schools are inclusive, safe and respectful as they can possibly be."

The Department of Justice guidance encourages schools to adopt gender-neutral policies and allow transgender students access to bathrooms and athletic programs according to gender identity.

"This is another gross overreach of the federal government," said Oklahoma Superintendent, Joy Hofmeister.

In Oklahoma, the guidelines sounded like a threat - to withhold funding or face a lawsuit.

Hofmeister said, "Our local schools have policies in place to meet the needs of their local students in their local community, and they are doing that in a way that is appropriate.”

Tulsa Public Schools adopted a policy last November that reflects the new national guidelines.

11/12/2015 Related Story: Tulsa Public Schools Adopts Guidelines For Transgender Students, Faculty

Friday, Broken Arrow Public Schools said gender-neutral restrooms and changing areas are available, but "with current law so unclear, it is unfair this directive has been issued with an implied threat of withholding federal funds."

Jenks said, "students are assisted case-by-case, in a manner which is respectful to transgender students and all students."

Union said it, too, "works with transgender students and their parents, to accommodate their needs while respecting and protecting privacy rights of all students."

Second District Congressman Markwayne Mullin said the federal government has no business telling Oklahoma schools how to operate when it comes to bathrooms.

That is how the state superintendent sees it too.

"I don't think they should be directing us on bathroom policy," Hofmeister said.

OK Leaders Reaction To Guidelines:

Transgender Practices:

Transgender Guidance: