What to Know
- Cuomo's letter to the state Department of Education comes a day after the Trump administration withdrew protections for transgender students
- The guidelines enacted during the Obama era allowed public school students to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identities
- The lifting of the guidelines has created a national firestorm, with celebrities and the public speaking out on social media
New Yorkers rallied in support of transgender students at the famed Stonewall Inn Thursday as Gov. Cuomo issued a directive urging the state Department of Education to make clear to all school districts that transgender students be shielded from discrimination and harassment.
Cuomo's letter was sent a day after the Trump administration withdrew protections for transgender students in public schools that allowed them to use bathrooms and facilities corresponding with their gender identities.
Without the federal guidelines enacted during the Obama era, it's up to individual state and school districts to interpret the federal anti-discrimination law.
"It endangers the lives of my child, the people I love," said Emily Grote, a mother of a transgender son who was among the hundreds of demonstrators at Stonewall Inn. "I experience discrimination from babysitters to principals."
White House spokesman Sean Spicer reiterated the president's stance Thursday.
"I think the message shows that he's a guy with a heart that understands the trouble that many people go through but he also believes that the proper legal recourse for this is with the states," he said.
The governor called the rollback "misguided." Cuomo says the recent policy change won't alter the existing protections for transgender students such as the Dignity for All Student Act, which requires schools to guard students from discrimination or harassment based on gender.
"New York State schools must continue to enforce the law and protest transgender and gender non-conforming students," he said. "No student should be confused about their rights or fearful of losing these important protections."
More than a dozen states explicity protect transgender students, while 13 others had sued to block the Obama administration's order.
At the Stonewall Inn rally Thursday evening, demonstrators shouted "Trump is a fascist, drive him out."
People in the crowd of several hundred held signs saying, "Trans youth, you are loved" and "protect Trans youth" and chanted "not one inch" as they heard from elected officials, Trans advocates and their allies.
At a news conference on Long Island earlier in the afternoon, LGBT Network CEO David Kilmnick said that the action is a sign of the Trump administration's attempt to disenfranchise LGBT people and target the country's most vulnerable citizens. He urged New Yorkers to be vigilant and stand united.
"We have to be vigilant, have to stand together," he said. "We will continue to be a home and voice for the community. It's important to remember while we are here, we will also continue to stand for the LGBT community."