President Donald Trump’s administration revoked federal protections for transgender students at public schools and universities Wednesday night. Protections pushed by former President Barack Obama urged universities to allow transgender students to use the bathroom for the gender which they identify with.
The University of Utah will make no changes to its current policy which calls for equal rights for transgender students.
In President Obama’s 2016 “Dear Colleague” letter, he set guidelines for public universities to permit transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding with their gender identity. Stated in the letter were specific directions: “Schools must allow transgender students access to such facilities consistent with their gender identity.”
Amy Wildermuth, Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs, said the U has its own anti-discrimination policy known as 1-012. Since 2009—seven years before Obama issued LGBTQ provisions for public schools— the policy has protected gender identity and gender expression.
“We committed then and we reaffirm again today that we will not discriminate against those who are transgender,” Wildermuth said.
President Obama’s letter stated: “A school may not, however, adopt or adhere to requirements that rely on overly broad generalizations [about gender identity]” The U’s policy, however, fails to mention bathrooms, transgender students and stereotypes made in same-sex athletics about the difference between transgender students and other students.
Though, Wildermuth did affirm the U’s inclusive stance on toilet usage. “Our policy for many years has permitted transgender students to use the bathroom that accords with their gender identity.”
“Nothing has changed,” she added.
51 gender-neutral restrooms can be found on the U’s campus. Additionally, all impending building designs include bathrooms without male and female designations, Goldsmith mentioned. “We have new standards for future buildings that will accommodate configurations for bathrooms,” she said.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert voiced his opposition to the Obama guidance last year, saying it could aggravate bullying of transgender students. Other Utah lawmakers accused “federal outreach.”
Wheeler Heck, a student who identifies as LGTBQ, says he doesn’t like the idea of the government mandating university policies but believes most public schools will protect transgender students. “Government telling schools how to act is unnecessary,” Heck, who volunteers in the U’s Title IX office, said. “If we’re being nice to others, we don’t need to be told how to act.”
Heck echoed the opinion of the U—if universities “care about students,” they will accommodate them.
“We [Title IX office] want them to feel like they’re apart of this school, this country and this world,” Heck said.
“Regardless of political policies,” he added.