The Latest: Student says Obama boosted confidence for change

LONDON (AP) — The Latest on President Barack Obama’s visit to the United Kingdom (all times local):

2:00 p.m.

A student who came out as “non-binary” during a televised town hall-style meeting with President Barack Obama in London has spoken of gaining the confidence to “change the world.”

Maria Munir, a student at the University of York in northern England, told Obama: “I’m coming out to you as a non-binary person” — identifying as neither exclusively male nor female. The student urged the British and American governments to “take us seriously as transgender people.”

The president said he was “incredibly proud” of Munir for speaking out, and encouraged the questioner to “keep pushing.”

Munir said afterward that “to be sat in front of the president of the United States, the leader of the free world, and to be able to pitch to him social action that I believe he can have a real influence on is something I will never be able to describe.

“Being here, I just know that I can change the world now and this has given me that confidence.”


12:05 p.m.

President Barack Obama is telling a young person who self-identified as “non-binary” that change is coming quickly in the fight to improve rights for LGBT people.

At a town hall meeting in London, Obama encouraged the questioner to “keep pushing” for rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, and he says “the trend lines are good” on that front.

However, the president says he can’t do much about a North Carolina law that requires transgender people to use public bathrooms conforming to the sex on their birth certificates and restricts protections for LGBT people.

Obama says he can’t overturn state laws, and the current Congress is unlikely to prohibit states from taking such action. But he says his administration is doing what it can administratively and social attitudes are changing quickly.


11:15 a.m.

President Barack Obama is offering some advice to young activists: Be realistic, and be ready to compromise.

Obama says marriage equality advocates were effective in persuading him to shift his stance on gay marriage. He credits the movement, as well as his two daughters, with convincing him and others that the issue wasn’t just a legal matter, but about a “sense of stigma.”

He says that’s something he should have understood earlier.

Obama didn’t shower the same praise on the Black Lives Matter campaign. He says the criminal justice and racial equality activists have been “really effective in bringing attention to a problem.” But he warned that when politicians are ready to address a problem, activists have to be ready to present a realistic agenda.

He says, “You can’t just keep on yelling at them. You can’t refuse to meet because that might compromise the purity of your position.”

Obama says advocates must be prepared to negotiate and “occasionally take half a loaf.”


11:10 a.m.

President Barack Obama says he doesn’t believe he’ll have a full sense of his legacy for another decade.

Obama says he’ll “look at the scorecard at the end” — but there’s no doubt he’s keeping score even now.

The president listed a number of accomplishments he’s proud of, including his health insurance overhaul. He also is taking credit for saving the world economy from a depression, adding “that was pretty good.”

On the international stage, he says the agreement to keep Iran from developing a nuclear weapon without going to war is something he’s proud of, as well as the response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

Obama says there was panic about Ebola, but people quickly forgot about it as a result of what he describes as one of the great public health responses in the history of the world.


10:40 a.m.

President Barack Obama is asking young Britons to reject xenophobia and efforts to restrict people’s rights.

Obama says he wants young people to take a “longer and more optimistic view of history and the part that you can play in it.”

The president is speaking at a town hall in London. His remarks were a pointed reference to the debate in Europe over immigration and taking in refugees who are fleeing violence in the Middle East.

The president says he want young people to view integration and globalization “not as threats, but as opportunities.”


10:30 a.m.

President Barack Obama is telling young people in Britain that there have been some historical bumps in the road in the history between the U.K. and U.S. — most notably, he says the British “burned my house down” early in the country’s history.

But Obama notes that the two countries “made up” and have stood side-by-side, both on the battlefield against fascism and in creating institutions that help spread peace and prosperity around the world. The president says his main message is for young people to reject cynicism and to recognize that progress is inevitable but requires struggle and faith.

The president’s comment Saturday about institutions that promote peace appeared to be a indirect reference to supporting Britain’s membership in the European Union.

Obama is holding a town hall-style event in London with young people.


9:40 a.m.

President Barack Obama is opening his final day in London by touring a theater dedicated to the work of playwright William Shakespeare.

Saturday is the 400th anniversary of the Bard’s death, which was being observed throughout the United Kingdom.

Obama’s first stop Saturday morning was the Globe theater. The theater is a replica of the circular, open-air playhouse that Shakespeare designed in 1599.

As Obama toured the theater, he spent several minutes gazing up at the structure and asking questions about the seating and performances.

He also watched a brief performance of a portion of Shakespeare’s Hamlet, including the famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy.

Obama described the performance as “wonderful.”