Gov. Baker 'Disappointed' In Trump Rescinding Transgender Protections

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Gov. Charlie Baker said Thursday he's disappointed that President Trump, a fellow Republican, has rolled back federal protections for transgender students in public schools.

The Obama-era guidance said students should be able to use school restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.

In rescinding the guidance, a letter issued by two federal departments said there "must be due regard for the primary role of states and local school districts in establishing educational policy."

As we reported, the federal change won't alter state legal protections that have been years in the making.

Still, Baker said, "I'm disappointed with the decision that the administration made to roll that back.

"Thankfully," he added, "here in the commonwealth of Massachusetts, we've had in place standing administrative guidance on this issue for school districts in Massachusetts for the better part of four or five years, and we signed, as you know, legislation last year protecting transgendered individuals."

In a memo intended to go out to Massachusetts public school leaders Thursday, Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester reaffirmed the state's commitment "to protecting the rights of transgender students even in light of recent federal actions."

Meanwhile, the state's attorney general, Maura Healey, struck a stronger note at a Thursday press conference in her offices.

Flanked by House Speaker Robert DeLeo and Senate President Stan Rosenberg, as well as by transgender students and their families, Healey described the rollback as "targeting" of a vulnerable population already subject to higher rates of suicide, homelessness and substance abuse.

And she said she found it "shameful and remarkable" that new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions chose to begin his tenure with this change.

Healey reiterated a commitment across state government to protect transgender people of all ages, but she urged citizens in Massachusetts and across the country to push for policies in their communities that make it clear that "everyone is welcome."

With reporting by WBUR's Max Larkin and the State House News Service

This article was originally published on February 23, 2017.