The state Department of Education's proposed regulations on transgender students lack the required legal authority needed for promulgation.

Editor:

I need to express my opposition to the regulations the Department of Education is proposing to change the state’s public education anti-discrimination policy regarding transgender students.

Delaware's Gender Identity Nondiscrimination Act of 2013 forbids discrimination on the basis of gender identity in housing, employment, public works contracting, public accommodations, and insurance. The law was not applied to Title 14, which covers public education.

The exclusion of public education from this statute was deliberate, allowing school districts to objectively weigh their transgender student policies, in consultation with the citizens to which they are directly accountable.

The regulations proposed by the Department of Education are not authorized under the law and seek to usurp local control in favor of imposing a politically motivated ideological solution on all public schools.

Just as disturbing, the proposed rules contain no student age threshold and have no provision for safeguarding parental involvement. As structured, these rules would allow the youngest of students to make profound life decisions without the knowledge or input of their parents.

Additionally, the DOE has apparently not assessed the potential risk these rules would impose on the general student population and the administrative and liability issues it could create for local schools.

Some advocates of these rules have said they are needed to protect transgender students from harassment, but students are already shielded by existing anti-bullying policies that apply to any student subjected to disrespectful or abusive treatment.

Many of my colleagues in the House of Representatives share the views expressed in this letter. In fact, State representatives Danny Short, Harvey Kenton, Lyndon Yearick, Kevin Hensley, Deborah Hudson, Ruth Briggs King, Charles Postles, Dave Wilson, Ron Gray, Jeff Spiegelman, Bobby Outten, Joe Miro and Tim Dukes have all read this letter and indicated they fully agree with its content.

In summary, the DOE’s proposed regulations on transgender students lack the required legal authority needed for promulgation; would seize policy control from local districts; would remove parents from the process; and potentially expose local schools to significant civil liability issues.

I urge the DOE to immediately withdraw the proposed regulations, instead issuing a list of non-binding suggestions that local districts can factor into their deliberations as they decide best how to deal with this issue.

Rich Collins

R-Millsboro

41st Representative District