Trump Repeals Transgender Rights

Trump Repeals Transgender Rights

On Wednesday, Feb. 22, the Trump Administration issued a new letter stating the federal government would no longer require schools to accommodate transgender students. The Departments of Education and Justice revised the guidelines put in place during the Obama administration that instructed schools to let transgender students use the bathroom of their gender identity as opposed to private facilities.

Specifically, the administration is withdrawing two letters: one from 2015 and one from 2016, to “further and more completely consider the legal issues involved.” The letter then goes on to explain how the administration will handle cases of discrimination, noting that “all schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment.” Ultimately, the letter concludes the federal government will step back and leave the issue for the states to decide.

“I think that that’s just sort of a euphemism for allowing people to discriminate,” said Chloe Root, who teaches government, mock trial and gender studies at Community High School.

Some schools require students to use the bathroom that matches the sex on their birth certificate; some allow students to use whichever they identify with; and others provide separate facilities. Newly appointed U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos was not in support of the decision, but was told by Trump to drop her opposition or face the alternatives of resignation or defying the president.

“We have a responsibility to protect every student in America and ensure that they have the freedom to learn and thrive in a safe and trusted environment,” DeVos said in a statement. “This is not merely a federal mandate, but a moral obligation no individual, school, district or state can abdicate.” However, she was in agreement that the issue is best solved by local and state governments.

In response to the letter, several hundred protesters gathered outside the White House to demonstrate their opposition. Among this group was Gavin Grimm, a 17-year-old transgender student from Virginia. Grimm is currently suing his school board for barring him from use of the boys’ bathroom at his high school. The case is set to be heard by the Supreme Court in March and could greatly expand, or roll back, transgender rights—it could be sent back to the appeals court for further review or they could decide to wait for similar cases—but either way, Grimm has raised awareness for transgender rights.

“I think that it’s really unfortunate that they’re using all this rhetoric about states rights and stuff like that because I think this is the one spot where it’s not about the rights of the state,” Root said. “It’s about the rights of the people that are living there.”