FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Gov. Dannel P. Malloy signed an executive order Thursday designed to protect transgender students in public schools following President Donald Trump's rolling back of Obama-era federal guidelines on school bathrooms.
The guidelines issued last May ordered public schools to let students use bathrooms that matched their gender identity, otherwise they would be in violation of anti-discrimination laws and would lose funding. On Wednesday Trump revoked those laws, with his administration saying that the decision on school bathrooms should be left up to the states.
Malloy's executive order that he signed Thursday says that bathrooms and locker rooms in public schools and institutions of higher learning are places of public accommodation under existing state anti-discrimination laws. Malloy had signed a law in 2011 that incorporated gender identity and expression into the state's anti-discrimination statutes.
"Discrimination, harassment and bullying have no place in our classrooms or at our schools. Despite the actions taken by the federal government yesterday, the state of Connecticut remains committed to ensuring that every student has access to a high-quality education in a safe, supportive and welcoming school environment," Malloy said.
"Every child, no matter their gender identity or expression, should be treated equally and fairly in a safe, supportive environment. Connecticut will remain a state of inclusiveness because we strongly believe that diversity makes us stronger."
The executive order also directs the state Department of Education to develop and deliver guidance to the state Board of Education on policies that Connecticut school districts can adopt to allow students access to school facilities in a manner consistent with a student's gender identity.
The Board of Regents and the University of Connecticut, in consultation with the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities, will also be directed to develop and present to their respective Boards of Trustees policies consistent with state law that allow students to access school facilities in a manner consistent with their gender identity.
In addition to the executive order, Malloy and Department of Education Commissioner Dianna R. Wentzell also delivered a memo to all public school superintendents in the state, outlining the state's anti-discrimination laws and explaining that the Department of Education will soon be issuing more formal guidance pertaining to protections given to students and staff members.
“All students have a right to go to school in a setting that is safe and that supports their learning and personal growth,” Wentzell said. “All students deserve to be respected, valued and treated fairly. Connecticut has a history of standing up for the rights of all our children and families and today’s action says that we remain committed to protecting every student, regardless of their gender identity, from discrimination and harassment.”