BY EDITORIAL STAFF
Queens elected officials and activists vowed to fight for LGBTQ rights and blasted President Donald Trump after his administration announced that it would reverse Obama-era guidelines on transgender bathroom protections.
Formerly, President Barack Obama had instructed schools that they must allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that align with a child’s chosen gender identity. But Trump administration officials said last week that the protections would be rescinded.
The move by the Trump administration has been met with protests—including a large one last week outside Manhattan’s iconic Stonewall Inn—and anger from Queens leaders.
“We are outraged by this attempt to devalue transgender youth,” read a statement from the City Council’s LGBT Caucus. “As your council members, we will do all that is in our power to fight back against this bigotry. This action—the Trump administration’s latest assault on human rights— is antithetical to everything that our nation and city stand for. We will continue to resist such hate.”
Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights), who is a member of the Council’s LGBT Caucus, said that Trump’s reversal of Obama’s bathroom protections would not likely be put into effect in New York City and that city schools would continue to honor students’ choices about their chosen gender identity.
“Schools must use the pronouns [that children] prefer,” he said. “That will be determined by the child and by what name they prefer to be known by.”
Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer (D-Sunnyside), who is also a member of the Council’s caucus, called the Trump administration’s decision “especially cruel” and demonstrating “a fundamental lack of basic human compassion.”
U.S. Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-Astoria) said that she and her colleagues in the congressional Equality Caucus would oppose the Trump administration’s reversal of transgender protection laws.
“The federal government should be committed to protecting equal access to education for all students, not undermining it,” she said. “No student should face barriers to an education simply because of who they are, and no student’s dignity should be a political issue.”
Rocky Sanabria, a student from Maspeth High School, transitioned from being a girl to a boy over a period of time in elementary school and high school. During a recent City Council hearing, he gave testimony on how his elementary school principal called him a “her” and a “tomboy,” insisting that he “straighten out.” Sanabria later became the president of Maspeth High School’s student government.
Lindsey Duel, who is the director of the Queens Community House’s Generation Q, said that the site’s program aims to protect the borough’s LGBTQ youth. She said groups that protect LGBTQ students have been on high alert since Trump took office.
“This is only the beginning of the attacks on the LGBTQ community,” she said. “Although New Yorkers have progressive views and protections, we can’t forget the transgender folks in the rest of the country.”
Duel said that since Trump has taken office, she has not witnessed an increase in hostility towards LGBTQ youths in Queens. However, Generation Q will continue to hold weekly support groups, during which youths can voice their concerns.
“There have been no complaints that schools are denying access to gender-neutral bathrooms or an increase in bullying,” she said.
She said that all city schools are mandated to have at least one gender-neutral bathroom for those who don’t feel safe using gender-specific bathrooms.