First they came for those who receive health insurance through the Affordable Care Act. Then they came for those trying to enter from Muslim countries. Then they came for undocumented Americans. Next they came for the “lying media.” Now, the Trump administration is coming for transgender students.
A few months before the 2016 election, President Obama issued a directive requiring schools to allow transgender students to use restrooms that conform to their gender identities.
At a time when then-candidate Donald Trump was making bullying fashionable, and North Carolina was passing anti-trans bathroom bills, Obama saw the writing on the proverbial wall. He understood school should be the one place students must feel protected from discrimination while society battles its demons.
No surprise, though, citing “states’ rights,” the new administration has reversed Obama’s directive, putting in place conditions that fly in the face of federal Title IX provisions protecting students and faculty from sexual discrimination and harassment.
In a Liberal America piece titled “Watch a Conservative Try (And Fail) To Explain How Obama’s Trans Bathroom Rule Hurt Children,” Andrew Bradford reports how this week on CNN’s Newsroom, Democrat Bakari Sellers and former operative for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) Alice Stewart debated the new rule. Stewart defended it:
“This helps parents protect their children and, look, since those comments that Donald Trump said early on the campaign, he has been quite clear that his view on this is to make it a state’s rights issue, which what this decision has become.”
Sellers told Stewart the matter is one of civil rights:
“This is not a state’s rights issue; this is a civil rights issue. The American government has the duty to protect all citizens no matter their race, color, creed, or sexual orientation.”
When asked why Obama’s decision should be reversed, Sellers said:
“Since Barack Obama put this guidance in place, can you name me one instance where there’s been a case where a child was put in any type if danger because they now have the ability to go to a restroom that (corresponds) with the gender that they choose?”
Stewart could not:
“With regards to schools? No, I can’t. I can honestly say I can’t–but I certainly don’t want to wait for something to happen before we take action.”
Mara Keisling, Executive Director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said:
“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. 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.”
Not all feel so alarmed. Some legal authorities claim the administration’s latest move is unable to do the predicted damage.
Chase Strangio, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said:
“Rescinding the guidance does not change the rights of students under Title IX [the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education and activities]. Trans students are protected from discrimination by federal law and the administration can’t change that.”
That’s reassuring, but remember who the Attorney General is — Jeff Sessions (R), a man who has not been kind to the LGBT community in the past. Sessions reportedly fought for Wednesday’s order over the objections of new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos (R). A report by the New York Times claims DeVos asked to preserve protections for students against bullying but was overruled by President Trump, who sided with Sessions.
As I do with many of my articles, I urge you to contact your lawmakers and urge them to publicly decry the president’s decision. As recent events have proven, the louder we scream, the more we are heard.
Featured image via Twitter