Lawmakers Decide To Study Issues Surrounding Transgender Students | KUER 90.1

Lawmakers Decide To Study Issues Surrounding Transgender Students

May 17, 2016

Legislative leadership has decided to study the impacts of the federal government’s letter recommending guidelines for how to treat transgender students.

During a legislative management committee meeting on Tuesday, lawmakers decided they want to find out more about how policies regarding transgender students are impacting Utah schools and the students who attend them. The decision is a response to a recent letter sent to districts from the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Justice Department. The letter has been controversial because it tells school districts how they should handle transgender students. Senate President Wayne Niederhauser says they want to study the issue because they’re not sure yet what the legislature’s role should be.

“I think a lot of this has yet to be unfolded," he says. "This is so early after the letter has come out. There’s water to flow under the bridge over the next several weeks.”

Democratic State Senator Jim Dabakis says he’s not as concerned about who is studying the issue, as long they consider all aspects of it.

“Culturally, we just don’t know what to do with these young children," he says. "We don’t know where they fit in. I think the fact that the legislature has agreed to look at the issues for transgender children in public schools and understand their plight is a major step forward.”

While the Utah legislature has considered bills in the past that were similar to North Carolina’s so-called bathroom bill, President Niederhauser says he doesn’t believe that will ultimately be the path lawmakers choose.