The law in Maine is clear: it is illegal to discriminate against people because they are transgender. As a lawsuit that went all the way to the state Supreme Court further clarified, that means transgender girls must not be blocked from using the girls’ restroom at school, and likewise transgender boys must not be blocked from using the boys’ room.
The next step in this process is for the Maine Human Rights Commission to make enforceable rules for how schools should comply with the law. Rulemaking is an essential part of lawmaking – it gives people and institutions guidance in how to comply. In this case, rules would have the double benefit of protecting the rights of transgender students and helping schools stay out of legal hot water.
So it is strange that Gov. LePage has sought to block the MHRC from this essential step. Maine’s largest papers agree.
As the Bangor Daily News writes, “By delaying rules for schools, which are asking for clarity in how they should accommodate transgender students, the LePage administration needlessly puts these vulnerable students at risk.”
Similarly, the Portland Press Herald argues, “the power of law is necessary to make sure transgender students are treated the same as their peers. Clear rules and strong penalties make it far less likely that the presence of a transgender student will cause the same hysteria it did in Orono nine years ago. They leave no doubt how officials must act in order to avoid a lawsuit, and provide an easy retort to anyone who harbors hostility and bias toward transgender students.”
It's time for Gov. LePage to stop blocking efforts to protect the rights of Maine's young people.