Some Kansas City area public school leaders say they are unfazed by the Trump administration’s latest action to rescind guidance on how Title IX applies to transgender students.
The U.S. Department of Education on Wednesday rescinded the Obama administration’s 2016 Title IX guidance that directs public schools to permit transgender students to use the bathrooms for the gender they identify with. Not to do so, according to the Obama memo, would violate the law.
President Donald Trump’s administration is ordering the nation’s schools to disregard direction issued by the former presidential administration, but did not offer any new guidance on the law.
But superintendents from Kansas City, Grandview and Hickman Mills districts on Thursday said the Trump administration’s actions won’t change the way they handle the issue in their district.
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“It makes no difference,” said Dennis Carpenter, the superintendent at Hickman Mills who was recently named the new superintendent of the Lee’s Summit School District.
The superintendents were in Lee’s Summit on the Longview Community College campus Thursday morning to participate in a panel discussion on education, college and career readiness, sponsored by the South Kansas City Alliance.
Trump’s actions do not change Title IX — a federal law that protects against gender discrimination. Advocates for LGBT rights argue that transgender students remain protected by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The Obama guidance only provided information on how the protections provided by the law should be interpreted.
Lambda Legal, the nation’s oldest and largest LGBT legal organization, said in a statement released Thursday that “abandoning the guidance intentionally creates confusion about what federal law requires. The law bars discrimination...” Lamda said it is “prepared to sue any school district that discriminates in the wake of the Trump administration’s actions.”
Carpenter; Mark Bedell, Kansas City Public School Superintendent; and Kenny Rodrequez, superintendent of Grandview schools said Trump’s roll back on the guidance has no impact on the leadership they will give to school principals.
Principals in their schools, they said, will continue to do what has always been done in the districts.
“We work with individual students and individual families,” Rodrequez said. “Every kid is different.”
Bedell agreed. “We haven’t had any problems, haven’t had any complaints about how we handle this situation,” Bedell said.
All three superintendents said they will provide bathrooms for students that best fit a particular student’s need. They said they will continue to let students and families take the lead on what is best for the student.