Last week the Trump administration revoked protections for transgender students that granted access to public bathrooms according to gender identity. The mandate, rolled out by former President Barack Obama, was considered a huge step in the legal fight for trans, gender-nonconforming and other sex- or gender-diverse persons. The letter from the current administration said that the ruling had overstepped states’ rights “in establishing educational policy.”
One local advocacy group, Gender Justice Nevada, responded to the administration’s motion in a Facebook post on Wednesday, stating that current protections for Nevada transgender students would not change. “Statutes here provide support for Nevada students accessing bathrooms [that] correspond to their sex/gender identity,” it said.
The statement references statute NRS651—which deals with public accommodations, amended in 2011 to include protections for gender identity or expression—and goes on to say, “These discussions resulted in a clear understanding that a person’s ‘sincerely held belief’ regarding their sex/gender identity or expression is protected under Nevada law.”
In a follow-up interview, GJN director Jane Heenan says Nevada schools don’t always follow these policies, but GJN works on behalf of students and families to make sure their rights are upheld. “Schools have a primary role in supporting young people, [but] schools are not generally supportive of sex and gender diversity,” Heenan says. “Just last week we were at Chaparral, and initially the principal said [they] were not going to grant [bathroom] access [for sex- and gender-diverse students]. We followed up in this instance, and a couple days later the student was granted access to the bathrooms.”
While transgender and gender-diverse communities have experienced increased fear and uncertainty following President Trump’s election, Heenan says GJN will continue to work on their behalf. “We have been successful in getting people the rights that they deserve,” Heenan says. “If we can’t access public spaces, then we really cannot exist in public—and that’s a profound struggle.”