Trump Rescinds Transgender Students' Bathroom Protections
First immigrants, now transgender students. President Donald Trump on Wednesday reversed an anti-discrimination regulation proclaimed by his predecessor, Barack Obama, obligating public schools around the country to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and dressing rooms they prefer according to the gender with which they identify.
In doing so, the administration has signaled that it does not necessarily interpret current federal civil rights protections as prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.
A joint letter released by the departments of justice and education cited the legal battle on this question as justification for rescinding the guidance, “in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved”.
The reversal of the rule now leaves it up to states and school districts to interpret whether federal sex discrimination law applies to gender identity.
In May 2016, the Obama administration had issued guidance to US public schools requiring them to treat transgender students according to their gender identity, even if that were different than their sex at birth.
The Williams Institute at the UCLA Law School estimated in a study that there are about 150,000 13- to 17-year-olds in this country who identify themselves as transgender, as reported in EFE.
The question of how to address the “bathroom debate” opened a rift inside the Trump administration, pitting Education Secretary Betsy DeVos against Attorney General Jeff Sessions, reported The New York Times.
Ms. DeVos initially resisted signing off on the order and told Mr. Trump that she was uncomfortable because of the potential harm that rescinding the protections could cause transgender students. Mr. Sessions, who has opposed expanding gay, lesbian and transgender rights, pushed Ms. DeVos to relent. In the end, Mr. Trump sided with his attorney general, the Republicans said.
Hours after the order went public, LGBT rights groups assailed the administration and protesters gathered opposite the White House chanting "No hate, no fear, trans students are welcome here.”
“This is a mean-spirited attack on hundreds of thousands of students who simply want to be their true selves and be treated with dignity while attending school,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, as quoted in The Guardian. “These young people already face incredible hurdles in their pursuit of education and acceptance. With a pen stroke, the Trump Administration effectively sanctions the bullying, ostracizing, and isolation of these children, putting their very lives in danger.”
Access to gendered facilities is just one flashpoint in a far-reaching clash over transgender rights. This month, lawmakers in South Dakota considered a bill to give adoption workers broad authority to deny adoptions to LGBT parents. Oklahoma considered legislation permitting discrimination against gay and trans people by adoption agencies and private businesses. As reported in The Guardian.