AHF: FL Gov Rick Scott Should Comply With Federal Guidance on Transgender Students

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The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and U.S. Department of Education’s (ED) May 13th “dear colleague” letter issues guidance on Title IX compliance to school’s receiving federal assistance.

FT LAUDERDALE (May 23, 2016) AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF) today strongly urged Florida Governor Rick Scott and Florida Department of Education Chancellor Pam Stewart to require schools to comply with federal guidance regarding the treatment of transgender students. In response to the recent rash of so called “bathroom bills” that have emerged from state legislatures on the heels of nationally recognized same-sex marriage, the Obama administration issued guidance to public schools on May 13th that delineate specific obligations of schools to maintain an environment free of discrimination against students on the basis of sex, including transgender students, as stipulated under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Compliance with Title IX requires that schools allow transgender students to “participate in such activities and access such facilities consistent with their gender identity,” including facilities like locker rooms and restrooms.

“Conservative state legislatures are, yet again, aiming to undermine LGBT equality, this time with these cruel and senseless ‘bathroom bills,’ while shamelessly using the pretext of advocating for privacy,” said Michael Weinstein, President of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. “AHF denounces any such proposed legislation in Florida. We are poised to fight against all forms of illegal discrimination, especially policies that threaten the public health, and we stand firmly with the transgender community.”

According to published reports, “Social conservatives, angered by the federal government’s ‘guidance’ that school districts should allow transgender students to use restrooms and other facilities of their choice, are pressuring Gov. Rick Scott and Attorney General Pam Bondi to push back against the initiative.” The report further adds, “…opponents of allowing transgender students to use restrooms that don’t conform with their sex at birth say it could lead to a breakdown in school discipline or even attacks, supporters say there is no evidence of that. LGBT advocates also argue that forcing students to use restrooms that don’t correspond to their gender identity could lead to safety problems.”

“The Scott administration should reject calls to defy the federal guidance,” said Michael Kahane, Chief of AHF’s Southern Bureau. “AHF provides care to a significant patient population of transgender individuals, and as the largest HIV health services provider in Florida, we have found that acts of transphobia, such as the passage of bathroom legislation, directly contribute to disproportionate rates of HIV infection in the transgender community. Transphobia is learned, and it must not be taught to our children through the segregation and exclusion of transgender students in the school setting during primary and secondary education.”

“There is no documented evidence to support any perceived danger of transgender individuals violating people’s right to privacy in the context of bathroom usage,” says David Poole, Legislative Affairs Director for AHF. Supporters of bathroom legislation are succumbing to unfounded paranoia and are seeking a solution in the absence of a problem. Regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation, if an individual in a public bathroom commits an act of violence, harassment or exhibits inappropriate behavior towards anyone of any age, AHF fully supports prosecuting that individual in a manner commensurate with the offense. There are already laws on the books for this. Preventing transgender people from using the bathroom does nothing to promote privacy or safety. It only strips transgender people of their dignity.”

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