In recent months, Montgomery County Public School (MCPS) system has become increasingly accepting and conscientious about students’ gender identities. This can be accredited to students’ newfound interest in activism and awareness of social justice issues in light of the recent election.
Walter Johnson, for example, came up with a plan to replace one of the staff bathrooms with a gender neutral bathroom for students’ use. On the other side of the county, Blake recently decided to stray away from the traditional two-color graduation robe system that was based on gender, and instead will require students to wear the same color. Bethesda Chevy-Chase High School even initiated a gender neutral homecoming ballot during the fall season to eliminate categorizing of the sexes and the stereotypical boy, girl couples.
This sense of unity and acceptance toward transgender and gender fluid students could also be detected on a national scale throughout 2016. In May, Obama adapted the title IX clause to include an explicit statement that indicated that agencies were to “treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX.” This addition enabled transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities, where they feel most comfortable.
But, on Feb. 22, President Donald Trump rescinded this addition to Title IX. According to NPR, two of the federal agencies expressed that the law did not contain “extensive legal or explain how the position is consistent with the express language of Title IX, nor did they undergo any formal public process.” In addition, there was concern with the powers allocated to national government compared to state/local governments, since these agencies felt that the new section of the Title should be under state and local districts’ jurisdiction. This means that students are no longer federally protected to be acknowledged based on their self-selected gender identity.
Senior Jack Pugh, who is a member of the LGBTQA community, was one of many students to express frustration with Trump’s latest actions. He took to Instagram to post two pictures that read, “Trans rights are human rights” and “Protect Trans kids,” which were followed by social media posts from other students to show their disapproval of Trump’s change as well.
Despite this resentment and fear for the effects of the new national law, it won’t have much of a difference in Montgomery County. On Feb. 23, MCPS came out with a public statement indicating that they “reaffirm [their] commitment to providing a safe and welcoming learning environment for all students, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other personal characteristics,” which was followed by a list of guidelines that explain gender identity in further detail. The announcement, which was published on the MCPS webpage, also describes how the MCPS policy was put in before the Obama administration required it, and it has, proven to be effective in maintaining a consistent structure since its implementation.
The link to the MCPS post was shared on Facebook and Twitter as a way for students to show support for the county’s stance on the issue. “MCPS posting and clearly explaining their views on the issues revolved around transgender students has already allowed many LGBTQA students to feel safer simply by knowing that they live in a healthier, more accepting community,” senior Gabriela Rodriguez said.