Southwest Florida LGBT advocates react to Trump's reversal of Obama transgender policies in schools

Posted at 6:45 PM, Feb 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-23 18:45:34-05

Last June, former President Barack Obama's "Dear Colleagues" letter told public school districts they should allow transgender students to use whichever restroom with which they identify by gender. Wednesday, President Donald Trump reversed those guidelines, leaving many wondering about transgender restroom policies in public schools. But will anything change in Southwest Florida?

"We're unhappy to see that this has come down from the (Trump) Administration, but trans children should not feel abandoned," said Tom Jordan of Collier County's Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, or GLSEN. 

He said that transgender children are especially vulnerable to bullying. While federal law protects them - and all children - from bullying - Jordan is glad that Collier County Public Schools have anti-bullying training for faculty.

"What we would like to see is that they include more of that training, but have specific guidelines for dealing with LGBT youth," Jordan said.

Roberta Horton of the Naples Area Gay Support Group said she doesn't believe the bathroom choice of a transgender student has much, if anything to do with bullying.

"It's in the nature of kids to bully, whether they're gay or whatever - kids will bully," Horton said. "It's got to be watched, and it's got to be stopped."

Florida Democrats called Trump's reversal of Obama's guidelines on restroom use an "attack on transgender students."

While Collier County Public Schools initially resisted the federal transgender policy last summer, Jordan said he's happy with the district's anti-harrassment policies.

"They're very much committed to protecting every child in every school," Jordan said.

A spokeswoman with Collier County Public Schools told Fox 4 she was not aware of any issues regarding transgender bathroom use, and does not expect President Trump's decision Wednesday to change that.