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Policy reversal shouldn’t affect Washington rules

Federal maneuvers issued by the Trump administration won’t affect the rights of transgender students in public schools here, according to Nathan Olson, spokesman for the state Superintendent of Public Instruction.

In 2006, Washington state added sexual orientation and gender identification as protected classes under state law. In 2010, the Legislature approved a law prohibiting discrimination in the state’s public schools. That statute also includes protection for gender expression or identity.

And in 2012, the state superintendent’s office issued guidelines for school districts on implementing protections for transgender students.

“Our schools will protect transgender students and ensure they have access to the same facilities, classes, and the opportunities as other students,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement Wednesday. “We will continue to stand together to protect some of our most vulnerable students – we know that these young people face high rates of bullying, harassment and even violence.”

There are efforts underway to reverse Washington state practices.

The Just Want Privacy campaign filed a new initiative, I-1552, in January that cites student privacy and would require schools to maintain separate restrooms, locker rooms and other facilities for boys only and for girls only.

It would require schools to provide separate accommodations for transgender students. And it would allow students who believe their privacy rights are violated to sue the school under certain circumstances.

It would also allow businesses to determine their own bathroom and locker room policies.

A similar effort, I-1515, fell short last year when backers could not gather enough signatures in time to make the November ballot.

But backers of the new initiative say they’ll have more time to collect signatures for I-1552.

Another group, Washington Won’t Discriminate, has launched an effort that urges voters to say no to I-1552 petition signature gatherers. They argue that the Trump administration sees this as a matter for states to decide, and that Washington has already decided.

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