Transgender teen from Kingsburg weighs in on bathroom debate

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Allowing transgender students to use facilities that match their gender identity is already state law, but, today, the education and justice departments sent out a directive to schools across the country.

A Central Valley transgender teen is addressing concerns about changes to bathroom and locker room use in public schools.

Allowing transgender students to use facilities that match their gender identity is already state law, but, today, the education and justice departments sent out a directive to schools across the country, saying they could risk losing federal funding if they do not allow transgender students adequate access.

In the back, on the right side of the Kingsburg High School football field is student Angel Flores.

He says playing the trombone is his passion along with trying to help people understand who he really is.

"When I was little around five, seven, maybe I didn't like wearing girl stuff," Flores said. "My mom would always force me to wear girl stuff and so I just didn't like it. It didn't feel me."

Angel is transgender - born female, but identifies as male.

"It's not easy walking down the street and being stared at, looked at," he said. "I got really good friends who support me."

Flores says his school supports him too, allowing him to use both male bathrooms and locker rooms.

"I'm there to do my business," Flores explained. "I'm not there to get cameras or something or peak-a-boo."

But not everyone feels that way.

On Friday, the Obama administration sent out a letter stating public schools must allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity or risk losing federal funding.

The guidelines are already state law in California but has been met with harsh criticism across the country.

"We will not be blackmailed by the President's 30 pieces of silver," Lt. Governor of Texas Dan Patrick said. "We will not sell out our children to the federal government."

In an exclusive Action News poll conducted by Survey USA, 72 percent of those surveyed said schools shouldn't be at risk of losing funding if they don't comply.

Central Valley attorney Roger Bonakdar says federal funding is essential to any public school's operation and losing it would be detrimental.

"Federal funding is the cornerstone or foundation of the school's ability to pay salaries to maintain facilities extracurricular programs art programs," he said.

But Ismael Flores, Angel's dad, says he wants other parents questioning this new move to know this is the safest option for transgender students, compared to other locations.

"Schools are more regulated because there's always someone in the locker room, there's always teachers present," Ismael said. "And a lot of these parents should be more about being away from school then when they're at school and they only reason why they're targeting the school is because people don't like change."
Related Topics:
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