Despite the revocation of a memorandum allowing transgender students in public schools to use the bathroom of their choice, Gainesville remains a sanctuary, Mayor Lauren Poe said Thursday.
Poe took to Facebook to rebuke the decision on Wednesday after President Donald Trump moved to immediately roll back guidance made by former President Barack Obama that urged public schools to accommodate their students or risk funding slashes.
“If you are trans and feeling under threat, come to Gainesville. We respect you, love you and if need-be, we will protect you,” Poe wrote on his Facebook page.
Transgender students at public schools in Gainesville will always be allowed to use whichever bathroom they identify with, Poe said.
He said he wants to remind everyone in Gainesville that the city includes transgender people in its civil rights ordinance, and it is illegal to discriminate against any person.
“You cannot tell people they can or cannot use the restroom of their identity,” Poe said.
Nate Quinn, a transgender student at UF, said although he expected Trump to revoke the decision, he wasn’t expecting it to happen so quickly.
“It makes me worried, it makes me scared,” the 18-year-old UF psychology freshman said. “Obama being supportive of trans students was a good step in the right direction, and was a good start for equality in public schools. For Trump to get rid of that so easily, it’s very hard.”
Quinn, who has been working to promote equal rights for transgender students in public schools, said Trump’s latest move has completely reversed any progress he’s made as an activist.
“We were moving forward,” he said. “Now, we’re at a standstill.”
UF law student Benny Menaged said although he’s discouraged by Trump’s latest actions, he’s hoping the courts will give transgender Americans the protection he said they deserve.
Menaged, the former president of the LGBTQ+ legal organization OUTLaw, also accused Trump of making empty campaign promises to protect transgendered citizens.
“During Trump’s campaign, he made statements saying he would assure the rights of the LGBTQ community,” Menaged said. “Doing this is one of the worse things you could do to transgender children in our country, so that’s disappointing.”
Contact Molly Vossler at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @molly_vossler