Miami Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen on Wednesday criticized the Trump administration's move to lift protections for transgender students, who under Obama-era rules had been allowed to use public-school bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice.
Ros-Lehtinen -- whose son, Rodrigo Lehtinen, is transgender -- noted that she and Democratic Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado in 2015 introduced legislation (the Student Non Discrimination Act) prohibiting schools from discriminating against students based on sexual orientation or gender identity. She has also signed on to a friend-of-the-court brief in a Supreme Court case seeking to protect access to public accommodations for transgender students.
"This lamentable decision can lead to hostile treatment of transgender students and studies have shown that bullying and harassment can be detrimental to the emotional and physical well-being of teenagers," Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. "Evidence has shown that acceptance of transgender students lowers their risk of suicide. Jared and I introduced our SNDA bill to prevent discrimination of transgender young people and we will re-introduce it because our country benefits when everyone is accepted and we live up to our nation’s promise of inclusiveness."
Last year, Ros-Lehtinen and her husband, former Miami U.S. Attorney Dexter Lehtinen, took part along with their son in a bilingual public-service campaign in Miami to raise awareness for transgender rights.
Photo credit: Carl Juste, Miami Herald staff