FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Zakiya Summers, ACLU of Mississippi, 601-354-3408; zsummers@aclu-ms.org

JACKSON, Miss. – The following is a statement from American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi Executive Director Jennifer Riley-Collins in response to the group of Mississippi legislators who have asked state Superintendent Dr. Carey Wright to step down if she follows the White House’s directive on protecting transgender students’ rights:

“The Mississippi legislators’ response and threat to the State Superintendent is, yet, another step in the wrong direction. Transgender youth are entitled to the same educational opportunities, anti-harassment protections, and expressive freedoms as other students.

The Obama administration’s guidance is simply providing schools with clarity as to the legal obligations that they already had under Title IX. With this guidance, there should now be absolutely no question as to what schools need to do to ensure they are upholding their obligations under federal civil rights law regarding the treatment of transgender students.

Schools must enforce their dress codes equally and equitably. Schools should permit transgender students to comply with the dress code that reflects their gender identity. The obligation of schools to keep transgender students safe extends to bathrooms and locker rooms. A transgender student should be able to use the bathroom that reflects his or her gender identity. Isolating transgender students, as well as threatening a government official who is asked to follow the law (Title IX), sends, yet, another message that it is acceptable to discriminate in Mississippi.

The ACLU of Mississippi stands ready to defend any student treated differently because of their gender identity or sexual orientation. School should be a safe place for all students.”

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Statement updated to reflect House and Senate Republicans Letter to Supt. Wright.

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