- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Latest on the Mississippi Department of Education reconsidering its stance on transgender accommodations (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

A leading gay rights advocate says his organization will seek talks with Mississippi Board of Education members who are considering whether to follow federal guidance on transgender student accommodations.

Rob Hill, state director of the Human Rights Campaign, says the state’s tiny transgender population is at risk of harm if Mississippi doesn’t follow federal guidelines issued last week. They direct schools to let transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms according to their current gender identity and not their birth gender.

State Superintendent Carey Wright on Wednesday reversed the Mississippi Department of Education’s previous stance that the state would follow the guidance, and now says she wants to consult with Board of Education members. The move came as dozens of lawmakers called on Wright to defy the guidance or resign.


2:45 p.m.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant says he’s “encouraged” that the state school superintendent has reversed her decision to follow federal guidance on transgender student accommodations and now says she’ll consult with the state Board of Education.

Bryant says he hopes Carey Wright and the nine-member board will ignore what the Republican governor calls an “outrageous directive.”

The state Department of Education had announced it would adhere to last week’s guidelines allowing transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms according to their current gender identity and not their birth gender. Amid growing criticism from state lawmakers, Wright reversed that decision Wednesday, saying Mississippi won’t do anything until she consults with board members.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi says the threats against Wright suggest that it’s “acceptable to discriminate in Mississippi.”


9:30 a.m.

Under fire from the governor and some Republican legislators, the Mississippi Department of Education now says it won’t follow new federal guidance on use of bathrooms and locker rooms by transgender students.

State Superintendent Carey Wright made the announcement Wednesday morning in a brief statement, saying the department would “follow the lead of state leadership” and take no action until the state Board of Education could discuss the situation.

Mississippi education officials had said Friday they would follow the guidance by federal authorities calling for transgender students to be treated consistently with their gender identity. They cited a need for a “safe and caring school environment.”

Gov. Phil Bryant had called for Mississippi to defy “federal coercion” and some Republican lawmakers called for Wright to reverse her position or resign.

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