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SF school officials stand by protections for transgender students

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A gender neutral restroom is seen at the San Francisco Unified School District Administration Building. (Jessica Christian/S.F. Examiner)
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San Francisco education leaders have reiterated their commitment to protecting transgender students in response to this week’s announcement that the U.S. Department of Education would cease to investigate restroom-related discrimination complaints.

The federal agency on Monday confirmed that it would not investigate civil rights complaints brought by transgender students who have been denied access to bathroom and locker room facilities on the basis of their gender identity.

In San Francisco, protections for transgender students have been in place for more than a decade. On Tuesday, school district leaders said this would not change and that SFUSD would continue to provide support to all of its students.

“The announcement by the U.S. Department of Education does not impact the mandated supports or affirmed rights of transgender or gender non-conforming students per SFUSD policies or the California Department of Education,” said a spokesperson for the San Francisco Unified School District.

San Francisco Board of Education Vice President Stevon Cook pointed out that the school district has “a long history of fighting for trans students.”

“The district has always had these issues top of mind,” he said.

The San Francisco Examiner previously reported that the district and board have honored protections for trans students, including access to bathroom facilities, locker rooms and sports activities that correspond with their chosen gender, since 2003.

A decade later, California followed suit by becoming the first state in the country to guarantee rights for transgender K-12 students.

Assembly Bill 1266, signed into law by Governor Jerry Brown in 2013, required that California’s school districts affirm the the rights of trans students to participate in “self-segregated programs,” including access to facilities and restrooms based on their gender preference.

In addition, a city ordinance requires single-stall restrooms be designated as “gender neutral” and a school district board resolution requires that a gender-neutral restroom be accessible to students at San Francisco schools.

“We are deeply concerned with the attacks on trans student rights by the federal government,” said school board member and supervisorial candidate Matt Haney, adding that the board and district will continue to “stand in support of our trans students, their rights, and their well being.”

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