BY JON CRONIN
Across the country there has been strife regarding state implementation of President Barack Obama’s directive that allows transgender students to use the bathroom of the sex they identify with.
Several sources have said that the issue has not yet been discussed in the New York state legislature, however the state and the city have been leading the country in creating similar progressive laws that protect the civil rights of residents who identify as transgender.
In October 2015, Gov. Andrew Cuomo gave an executive order that adds residents identifying as transgender to the 70-year-old New York state Human Rights Law, that protects them from sexual harassment and discrimination.
The governor’s office stated in a release, “these regulations affirm that all transgender individuals are protected under the State’s Human Rights Law, and all public and private employers, housing providers, businesses, creditors and others should know that discrimination against transgender persons is unlawful and will not be tolerated anywhere in the State of New York.”
They added, “This is the first time that any Governor has issued statewide regulations to prohibit harassment and discrimination on the basis of gender identity, transgender status or gender dysphoria.”
Cuomo stated, “The scourge of harassment and discrimination against transgender individuals is well-known – and has also has gone largely unanswered for too long.”
He added, “New York has always been a beacon for the country on LGBT rights. We started the movement at Stonewall, we led the way with marriage equality, and now we are continuing to show the nation the path forward. We will not tolerate discrimination or harassment against transgender people anywhere in the State of New York – period.”
After Gov. Cuomo’s directive and the legalization of gay marriage in New York in 2011, the Empire State Pride Agenda, which was a statewide LGBT political advocacy organization that advocated for all sexual orientation civil rights issues, disbanded citing that they had fulfilled their mandate. In a New York Times article from December 2015 regarding their disbandment, state Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) was quoted as saying that he was in disbelief of the dissolving of the organization and called the end of their fight “premature.” He added that he hoped another group would take up the mantle.
Councilman Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) said, “I think since 2002, we in the city have had the transgender legislation.” He noted that transgender students have been able to use bathrooms without any incident since the law has passed, “Which speaks volumes.”
Dromm added that guidelines came out two years ago for city school stating that transgender youth could be able to use the bathroom or the locker room of their choice. He noted that some schools have all gender restrooms, or use private restrooms that is part of an office or staff room. He said when administrators take each student on a case by case basis.
Dromm said that since the legislation passed there has been no pushback from lobbying groups and “on the ground level I haven’t heard of anything.”
He stated that in two weeks, he hopes the City Council will pass legislation he introduced that change plumbing codes so developers can construct with only single stall restrooms or must be labeled all gender.
Dromm added that existing restaurants will have to change signage to all gender restrooms.
Several members of the Assembly and state Senate were contacted and either declined to comment or did not return the call as of press time.
Reach Reporter Jon Cronin at (718) 357-7400 x125, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JonathanSCronin