Transgender bathroom legislation to be introduced in MI

Jenna Stanley and Lucinda Vang

The Michigan Board of Education released a proposal on Feb. 26 that would allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their personal gender identity.

The proposal would allow students to choose which pronoun they would like to go by, which bathroom they want to use, and for school districts to enforce and implement policies protecting students from harassment, violence, and discrimination. The purpose for this is to provide professional development opportunities to all staff and board members supporting the formation of extracurricular activities and to encourage respect for the human and civil rights of all people, including those who are LGBTQ, across the curriculum. The proposal will also allow school districts to provide appropriate information about LGBTQ issues in school libraries and in student and faculty resource centers, to collect and review data to ensure a safe and successful learning experience for LGBTQ students. School districts will also be able to designate a staff member who is able to have conversation regarding issues about sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression with students.

The State Board of Education’s president John Austin, when asked what brought about the proposal, said in WILX News that “the ultimate goal is to ensure every student gay, straight or transgender has a comfortable, safe place to use the bathroom.”

Regarding the issue of whether or not it would be comfortable for LGBTQ students to use bathrooms that match their personal gender identity, senior Mykul Schalm believes that either way there will be a problem as some people will abuse the use of coed bathrooms. However, Schalm believes that there should be an excluded bathroom like a family bathroom available so that LGBTQ students can use the bathrooms in their own comfort and that trusting students to do the right thing is also an important key as well.

However, this issue spreads farther than just in our public schools. Target recently announced that transgender customers at its stores are welcome to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.

“We welcome transgender team members and guests to use the restroom or fitting room facility that corresponds with their gender identity,” the retailer said in one of their online news post. “Everyone deserves to feel like they belong,” Target representatives said.

The  State Board of Education will be asked to approve the proposal on May 10 and the guidelines for the Department of Education proposal would be voluntary for schools. Ferndale Public Schools’ Board of Education had already voted to support the State Board’s policy regarding protecting the safety and well-being of LGBTQ students on April 18.