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New York Gov. Cuomo directs schools to protect transgender students

NEW YORK — President Donald Trump may have lifted federal guidelines that said transgender students should be allowed to use public school bathrooms matching their gender identity, but New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has a message for schools: not in New York.

Cuomo directed the state Education Department Thursday to protect transgender students.

“The misguided action taken by the federal government last night runs contrary to the New York Promise of individual freedoms," Cuomo said. "Regardless of Washington's action – the rights and protections that had been extended to all students in New York remain unchanged under state law."

The Trump administration decision is a reversal of an Obama-era directive. It will now be up to states and school districts to interpret whether federal sex discrimination law applies to gender identity.

Cuomo called the decision a move backwards for the country. In a letter to Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia, Cuomo urged the department "to immediately issue a directive to school districts making it clear that transgender students in this State are expressly protected from discrimination and harassment under New York State’s laws and policies."

The Dignity for All Students Act, passed in 2012 before Cuomo began his tenure, requires schools to protect students from discrimination based upon gender, which includes a student’s actual or perceived gender, their gender identity or expression.

Mayor Bill de Blasio also said the rights of transgender New Yorkers wouldn't change.

"We affirm the right of every New Yorker to use the bathroom that fits their identity," Mayor de Blasio said. "A new president will not change our values."