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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 24, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 08
Trump reverses Obama directives protecting Trans students
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Trump reverses Obama directives protecting Trans students

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Trump White House announced on February 22 that it will reverse the Obama administration's guidelines allowing Transgender students to use restrooms that correspond to their gender identity.

Trump had to intervene personally in the issue to support the views of new Attorney General Jeff Sessions and overcome the reluctance of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, according to a report in the New York Times.

The Obama policy was based on a reading of Title IX of the federal Education Amendments of 1972 that included gender identity in the law's ban on sex discrimination. Under the Obama policy, for example, school districts that received federal funding - including almost all public schools and many private ones - were required to allow Trans students to use restrooms that corresponded to their gender identity.

Soon after Trump's decision was announced, hundreds of protestors gathered outside the White House, waving rainbow flags and chanting 'No hate, no fear, Trans students are welcome here!'

White House spokesperson Sean Spicer said the administration was pressed to act now because of the pending US Supreme Court case, G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board.

That case pits a Virginia Transgender boy, Gavin Grimm, against school officials who want to bar him from the boys' restroom room at his high school.

Although the Justice Department is not a party in the case, the Obama administration had filed a letter in support of Grimm's lawsuit. That letter has now been withdrawn by Sessions.

'I've faced my share of adversaries in rural Virginia. I never imagined that my government would be one of them. We will not be beaten down by this administration,' Grimm told the protesters outside the White House.

DeVos, whose support for the new policy was needed because she now heads the Department of Education, initially resisted signing off on the order and told President Trump that she was uncomfortable with it, according to sources the New York Times identified as 'three Republicans with direct knowledge of the internal discussions.'

Sessions is known to oppose civil rights protections for LGBT people and to be skeptical of federal rights legislation. Trump sided with him, the Times sources said, and DeVos, faced with the choice of resigning or defying the president, agreed to go along.

'The president has maintained for a long time that this is a states' rights issue and not one for the federal government,' Spicer said, echoing Sessions' views.

'I think that all you have to do is look at what the president's view has been for a long time, that this is not something the federal government should be involved in, that this is a states' rights issue.'

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told the Washington Blade on February 20 that she heard from 'reliable sources' that Trump OK'd a plan presented by the Justice and Education Departments to send a letter to schools rescinding the Obama guidelines.

'This is the first day of the president's second month in office, and he is now fully coming after LGBT people,' Keisling said.

'I'm angry; I'm outraged. This is about kids who just want to go to school, who just want to be themselves, and to hear the president a week or two ago talk about how supportive he is of LGBT people, it's just outrageous that he go after trans kids this way.' HRC also reacted with anger to the report. 'Transgender young people face tragically high rates of discrimination and bullying, and they need a government that will stand up for them - not attack them,' said HRC president Chad Griffin. 'It's shocking that this kind of harm would even be a subject of debate for the president. We call on Trump to immediately and permanently affirm the Obama administration's guidance and protect transgender students.' The new Trump directive came a week after HRC sent Trump a letter signed by 780 parents of Trans children, asking him not to change federal policy. The letter, organized by HRC, said, 'All students deserve equal access to a safe, welcoming school and a high-quality education no matter who they are.' The HRC letter was sent after the Justice and Education Departments said they would drop legal defense of the Obama Title IX guidelines against lawsuits filed by a dozen states.

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Trump reverses Obama directives protecting Trans students
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Trump order on Trans students: What it means for Washington

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