February 23, 2017 - National Education Association Rhode Island (NEARI) President Larry Purtill today released the following statement with regard to President Trump’s revocation of guidance for public schools allowing transgender students to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity put in place by former President Obama: “We’ve been told since the election that the LGBTQ community had nothing to worry about with a President Trump. Yet at his first opportunity he chooses to attack LGBTQ youth. It’s offensive and disgraceful. It is important to note that Rhode Island state law bans discrimination with regard to public accommodations – including public schools – based on gender identity or expression. Transgender students are today and should always be protected and NEARI will aggressively fight any efforts to roll back policies that keep all children safe from intimidation and harm. Rescinding federal guidance does not undo legal protections for transgender students. Transgender students are protected by the Constitution and Title IX’s prohibition on discrimination on the basis of sex. This includes when using restrooms and other school facilities. We will do everything possible to protect, welcome and embrace our transgender students. Every, and I mean every, student deserves that and I will be asking RIDE to take this opportunity to recommit to the existing state law and guidance already in place. We will not turn our backs on these students. In fact, we’ve got their backs! Politics among adults is one thing, but not protecting every student is outrageous and will not be tolerated. All students yearn to feel comfortable in their skin and find their place in this world. This holds especially true for LGBTQ youth. It’s easy sometimes when using acronyms to really remember their meaning. The “T” stands for transgender and today and every day we will stand with our transgender students.” If educators, administrators, parents and students see any act of discrimination or witness bullying or threatening behavior, please report it immediately to your local officials, NEARI (401-463-9630) or GLBTQ Advocates and Defenders (GLAD: 617-426-1350).