SAAF Stands with Transgender Students & Calls on Trump Administration to Protect All Students

©Creatista 2016-Eon Lounge-1046smallYesterday, the Trump Administration reversed a sound policy protecting the rights of transgender students. The Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation (SAAF) calls on President Trump, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to ensure all students have access to bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity and gender expression.

The change to government rules and policies comes as schools across this country are looking for ways to protect their students. We believe that by making this a local matter for states to decide, the Trump Administration is ensuring children receive access to different facilities based solely on their zip code. No student should face ridicule or harm for their use of the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity and expression.

Wendell Hicks, SAAF’s Executive Director, says: “SAAF’s mission is to cultivate a stigma-free society and this policy is nothing more than stigma codified into law. There is no case where a student has used a bathroom for nefarious reasons. What does happen here is that our transgender students will begin to see their schools–and by extension, their government–does not support them.”

The policy reversal came as a shock to SAAF because, during the previous administration, the federal government had previously committed to ensuring equitable access to school facilities for all students. SAAF believes this applies to bathrooms.

Adam Ragan, SAAF’s Associate Director of LGBTQ Initiatives said: “Title IX is important to equitable education, and we firmly believe its prohibition of sex and gender discrimination applies to gender identity and gender expression. What this administration has done in this policy is to tell transgender students they are less-than their counterparts. That is both abhorrent and something we will not stand for.”

SAAF has always had gender-neutral restrooms and has extended this policy to the new facility they are opening Summer of 2017, the Thornhill Lopez Center on 4th. Programming offered at the Thornhill Lopez Center on 4th includes Eon, a safe place for LGBTQ and allied youth to access services, facilitate peer-to-peer mentorship, and empowerment-modeled programming designed to build self-esteem as well as other programs for youth.

SAAF calls on the Trump Administration, the Department of Education, and the Justice Department to protect all students in access to education.

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The mission of the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation is to cultivate a healthy and stigma-free society through transformative action.