Rockford superintendent sends letter to lawmakers about transgender bathroom policy

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ROCKFORD, Mich. -- Rockford Public Schools is asking Michigan lawmakers for their guidance on how to handle the new transgender bathroom and locker room directive started by the Obama administration.

The administration is  telling public schools that they must allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

The letter, sent to school districts Friday by the departments of Education and Justice, does not impose any new legal requirements.   Federal officials say the guidance is meant to clarify school districts' obligations to provide students with nondiscriminatory environments.

In response to the directive, Rockford Superintendent Dr. Michael Shibler penned a letter to several Michigan lawmakers, including senators Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenaw and representatives Justin Amash and Bill Huizenga.

"As Superintendent of the Rockford Public Schools, I am committed to providing a safe and orderly environment for ALL students.  Our school district has specific Board policies on hazing, harassing, bullying, etc., which we diligently enforce," the letter says.

The letter goes on to say that the district encourages "an accepting environment for all students" and that family bathrooms are provided in the middle schools, freshman center and high school for anyone "who is uncomfortable using a gender-specific restroom."

In the letter, Dr. Shibler also takes issue with part of the new directive.

"The Department of Justice’s position regarding transgender students being permitted to use locker rooms compatible to their 'gender identification' is dangerous and impinges on the safety of heterogeneous students," the letter says.

The letter continues:

As a school district, we also need to be respectful of and ensure everyone’s safety:  safety of the gender diverse/gender questionable/transgender student who is entering a locker room or restroom where the other students are physically the opposite sex, but also the safety of all students who, even if they are accepting, may not be capable of controlling adolescent emotional or physical response.  We are advised that providing a separate locker room or restroom violates the student’s rights because we are treating the student differently.  So what is the solution to satisfy all?

The letter expresses the confidence Dr. Shibler has in state and federal lawmakers that they strongly believe that all students attending public schools must have confidence that they are safe, secure and respected while attending school or school-related activities.

Congressman Bill Huizenga released a statement Friday regarding the Obama Administration's directive that states the following:

I am strongly opposed to the Obama Administration's threat to withhold education funding from Michigan schools, colleges, and universities, without allowing students, parents, and local school administrators to have a voice in the process. Gender identity is a deeply personal issue and decisions regarding its interpretation or definition by the federal government need to be made by the American people and their elected representatives, not through executive fiat by bureaucrats within the Obama Administration.

The Obama administration's directive comes amid a legal fight between the Justice Department and North Carolina over that state's law on bathroom use by transgender people.

The state and the federal government sued each other on Monday.


The Associated Press contributed to this report


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  • Andrew

    Let the Feds keep their money, and return control of the schools to the parents of the students in each district.

    • steve

      If every school district that opposes this Obamanation would get together and tell him to go to hell, this insanity would stop. When will Americans realize what this man has done and is doing to our country? Even before he was elected, Obama said he was going to fundamentally change America. With the help of the media, the “somethin’ for nuthin” portion of the population, and the ass-kissing Republicans in the Congress, he’s gone way beyond that. If the revolt over this were to occur, the Boston Tea Party would look like kids at play

  • Kevin Rahe

    No problem accommodating someone who is uncomfortable using facilities designated for their own sex. But you can’t oblige people of the opposite sex to participate in that accommodation unwittingly and/or unwillingly. Why providing a facility that offers the same privacy one would experience in their own home is not an adequate accommodation is a complete mystery, and is something the Obama administration and the Michigan Department of Education both need to explain. Some people may feel that their “gender” is unconnected to their sex, but they cannot expect everyone else to see it that way.

  • Commonsense

    Great work by our President once again. There aren’t more worthy issues for him to address right now as a Lame Duck. November can’t get here soon enough!

  • LawProf John Banzhaf

    Despite some media reports that a new federal order will permit any anatomical male claiming to be transsexual to use female bathrooms, locker rooms, and changing rooms, GWU is experimenting with an alternative technique which may comply with the directive without compromising the privacy or risking the physical safety of female students.

    The federal letter reportedly states that “a school may not require transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity or to use individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so,” and that “to ensure nondiscrimination on the basis of sex requires schools to provide transgender students equal access to educational programs and activities.”

    But it appears that GWU’s experimental all-gender multi-user restroom would meet these conditions.

    It satisfies the needs of transsexuals (as well as transvestites) – who dress in a manner inconsistent with their anatomical sex – to be able to have ready access to conveniently located restrooms without having to declare any particular gender preference or identity, while at the same time insuring that girls and women will not find anatomical males (transgender or otherwise) in their female restrooms.

    What GWU has done is simply to re-designate what was formerly a typical men’s restroom – with 3 urinals, 1 toilet in a stall, and 2 wash basins – as an all-gender restroom.

    Since the percentage of students who are transsexual is very small, most of the time the room functions as any other male restroom would, with many men able to urinate in a short period of time.

    However any person – including not only transsexuals, but also transvestites, men who are simply bashful, have shy bladder syndrome (paruresis), etc. – can enter this restroom without exposing themselves or identifying with any particular gender, and relieve themselves in the privacy of the stall.

    Because typical women could even use this stall toilet if time is short and the lines at the nearby women’s room are too long, both F2M and M2F transsexual students can relieve themselves in the room’s toilet without revealing anything about their anatomical or identity gender.

    Since in most buildings male and female restrooms are usually close together, this system would open up almost half of all restrooms to transgender students, and seemingly comply with the directive that transgender students not be forced to use single-seat restrooms if other students need not do so.

    While such a system would occasionally expose typical male users to an anatomical female, most men seem unconcerned about any potential privacy invasion and, unlike the reverse situation, have no real fears about suffering sexual assaults or even rape from anatomical females.

    So this approach – converting all or at least most male restrooms into all-gender restrooms – may very well provide a quick and easy way to comply with the new federal directive, .and do so without adversely affecting transsexuals nor typical girls and women concerned about privacy and sexual assaults.


    • Andrew

      By singling out male bathrooms doesn’t it then become an issue of discrimination against men as the male bathroom is the target of this policy? Why just convert male bathrooms why shouldn’t female bathrooms be converted as well. It seems to me that is preferential treatment and by definition discriminatory.

    • Disgusted with presidential liberties

      We are talking about kids having feelings inside about who they are….not alleviating long lines. Kids at that age are already confused about a lot of things, may have self esteem issues, and are in general uncomfortable with their changing bodies. Now we are about to be mandated to expose them to others who physically still look like the opposite sex on the outside but feel transgendered on the inside? Unless they’ve already been surgically re assigned, they still have the parts they were born with! I don’t want my daughter having to share a gym locker room with a physical BOY! Threatening to pull school funding is outrageous and
      Dangerously close to dictatorship!!! This opens the door back up to separatism…..let’s really go all out and have bathrooms for every different race and identity, and religion, oh and skinny people, and fat people…..because I can’t pee next to someone who doesn’t look like me….

  • Bob

    Shibler, what a gutless wuss you are. Have a backbone and fight for the protection of kids instead of bowing down to King Barack.

  • Annette

    I say call his bluff. His threats have no power if they don’t matter. I know the schools need federal funding but there’s got to be other money somewhere. Churches? Fund raisers? Donations? Are the people willing to come together and sacrifice to overthrow the tyranny of a mad leader and stand up for the safety and well-being of their children? Fight it!!

  • Douglas A. jJ

    This is a prime example of the need to eliminate the Federal Department of Education. It serves no purpose but indoctrination.

  • Bill Toohey

    We are so lucky to be living in a world where things are going so smoothly that the highest priority that the President of the United States has to address is who uses what bathroom!

  • Big Scott

    This isnt about Liberal or Conservative, Republican or Democrate it is about common decency. Which I hope both parties have an abundance of, if they do not, they better find some very quickly.

  • David Nash

    Ok everyone remain calm please.
    The huge increase in trans-gender, autistic and LGBT birth defects has absolutely nothing to do with he purity of the water you have been drinking. Benzine is good for you. Please just keep drinking the water; and lets all sit back for another generation and watch just how weird this place is going to get.

  • Jen Peterson

    8 year old niece told me she is taking medicine, and I asked why, she said ” I have a problem because I’m not Gay and I can’t use the bathrooms at school and I hold it… “…further questions and she didn’t tell mom or doctor this because SHE is ashamed for not being Gay… now is any one in school explaining to the kids what this is about?????????????

  • Bob Johnson

    Why don’t you be a man, do YOUR job … take the bull by the horns and say NO! No, you are “in-charge” and you are too afraid to say the obvious. Boys don’t belong in a girl’s bathroom and girls don’t belong in a boy’s bathroom. You probably have an EdD; you should be smart enough to know “this” without asking some political hack!

  • SharpShtik

    It isn’t gender identity; it’s gender misidentity — a mental illness called gender dysphoria. Democrats are intentionally misinterpreting physical reality (immutable gender) in Title IX (20 USC 1681) as a mere mental state (gender misidentity). Bathrooms, locker rooms and sports are rationally divided by physical/biological reality (gender), not irrationally divided by irrational states of mind (gender misidentity). Democrats are unconstitutionally discriminating by forcing open female bathrooms, locker rooms and sports to mentally disturbed Democrat males to encourage their mental illness instead of treat it privately without discriminating against females.