On Wednesday, February 22 the White House announced that it would roll back Obama era protections under Title IX that ensured educational institutions that receive federal funds provide students the opportunity to use the bathroom of their actual gender, which as we know, is not always the gender that matches our sexual organs.
The current administration takes the position that the Obama era guidelines “do not contain extensive legal analysis or explain how the position is consistent with the express language of Title IX, nor did they undergo any formal public process. “ In addition, the current Departments of Justice and Education believe that, in this context, there must be due regard for the primary role of the States and local school districts in establishing educational policy.
They maintain that “this withdrawal of these guidance documents does not leave students without protections from discrimination, bullying, or harassment. All schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment. The Department of Education Office for Civil Rights will continue its duty under law to hear all claims of discrimination and will explore every appropriate opportunity to protect all students and to encourage civility in our classrooms. The Department of Education and the Department of Justice are committed to the application of Title IX and other federal laws to ensure such protection.”
However the LGBT community and its allies reacted swiftly against what is clearly an attack from the highest levels of the government. HRC President Chad Griffin said “What could possibly motivate a blind and cruel attack on young children like this? These transgender students simply want to go to school in the morning without fear of discrimination or harassment. The consequences of this decision will no doubt be heartbreaking. This isn’t a ‘states rights’ issue, it’s a civil rights issue. Children deserve protection from bullying no matter what state they live in. Period. Every transgender student should know that, no matter what [the president] does or says, there are millions of people who will fight to stand up for them. We are proud to be among them.”
Janet Mock who is a transgender woman, prominent journalist and author took to Facebook where she posted her personal support for the Trans community and also shared what it was like growing up getting bullied because of her gender. She said “I had issues with bathrooms and locker room access. I was sent home repeatedly due to “dress code violations.” I was repeatedly called out of my name and misgendered daily by classmates and staff.
Always the first with my hand up, the one ready and willing to do and learn more, I would go home at night and seriously contemplate never returning to school. The struggle of waking up every day, getting dressed, walking to school and being met with stares and closed doors weighed heavily on me. I was only 15 years old.”
In what might be the biggest surprise of this entire development, it seems that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos apparently disagrees with the regime’s decision to roll back these protections. The NY Times reported that DeVos originally balked at signing the order that required her signature along with that of Attorney General Jefferson Sessions. She is reported to have appealed directly to the president who ordered her to stand down and sign the document, clearly siding with Sessions. However, it is no surprise that Sessions supports rolling back any protections for the LGBT community. He has been outspoken in his opposition to marriage equality and transgender protections.
Earlier this week, on Monday, March 6, The Supreme Court announced that due to the new guidelines from the White House, it was vacating a lower court’s ruling on a transgender case it had originally agreed to hear this spring. Now, since the government’s position has changed the SCOTUS decided that the lower court, The US Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, should reconsider their ruling. They had originally ruled in favor of Gavin Grimm, a Virginia student who sued his school district after he was banned from using the men’s bathroom. While the SCOTUS decision isn’t seen as a defeat for the Trans community, it is a devastating blow for Grimm, who will now likely have to spend the remainder of his senior year using the ladies room, and he will likely graduate before the case is resolved.