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Transgender activists see big setback in Trump's rollback on school bathrooms

Danni Askini, the executive director of the Gender Justice League.
Courtesy of Danielle Askini
Danni Askini is the executive director of the Gender Justice League.

Washington state won't be directly affected by President Donald Trump's new policy about transgender students.

The administration said Wednesday that states should decide whether trans students should be allowed to use school bathrooms that match their gender identity, reversing guidelines issued by then President Obama.

And Washington has a state law that protects transgender people from discrimination.

Still, trans rights advocates say the decision is a setback to their cause. 

Danni Askini, with the Gender Justice League, fears the decision could give momentum to an effort to an initiative intended to overturn state policies.

"Now more than ever it's important that we stand together and ensure that transgender students in Washington are protected and that the initiative attempt doesn't pass,” she said, “because if it did, transgender students in Washington would have no protections from discrimination in school."

The initiative has not yet qualified for the ballot, but supporters say they're pleased by the Trump administration's new policy. 

Joseph Backholm is a leader on the Just Want Privacy initiative. He said the decision from Trump is sensible. He also said it would boost their campaign as they try for the second time to get the initiative on the state ballot. 

"The best argument that the other side had last time is the idea that schools were going to risk losing federal funding is we as a state chose to protect student privacy in schools. And that's no longer a risk," Backholm said.

The Just Want Privacy group has also said that local governments should make decisions about transgender students and school bathroom policies not the federal government.

Year started with KUOW: 1998.
Year started with KUOW: 2015