Yesterday, President Donald Trump’s Administration, under the direction of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, rescinded Title IX guidance for transgender students.
In May 2016, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice issued a letter outlining what a public school’s responsibilities are to transgender students under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, and how both departments will evaluate a school’s compliance.
“This comprehensive guidance put in place by the Obama administration helped provide every student a fair chance to succeed in school and prepare for their future—including students who are transgender,” said Gina Duncan, Transgender Inclusion Director for Equality Florida. “Schools should be safe places for LGBTQ students who are already at a disproportionate risk for bullying and harassment. Rescinding the guidance yesterday has sent the message to transgender youth that the President of the United States doesn’t have their backs.”
The Trump administration’s actions, while deplorable, in no way diminishes a school district’s absolute legal obligation to protect transgender students from discrimination including allowing them to access the bathroom that aligns with their affirmed gender. Under Title IX, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, public schools can and should face consequences if they allow mistreatment of LGBTQ students. However, what the President has done is certain to create new confusion and has put an even bigger target on the backs of children who already face tremendous levels of bullying and harassment.
This announcement is devastating to one of our most vulnerable and unprotected populations, transgender youth. Seventy-five percent of transgender students report feeling unsafe in school, according to a recent GLSEN report. And, tragically, one study by The Williams Institute shows that more than 50 percent of transgender young people report attempting suicide at least once in their lifetime.
“Every student should be treated fairly and equally under the law, and transgender students deserve the same opportunities as their classmates to fully participate in school,” said Stratton Pollitzer, Deputy Director for Equality Florida.
“Many school districts in Florida have clear and effective guidelines for protecting and supporting transgender students which allow them to participate and thrive in school activities. When transgender students face daily attacks on their dignity, like being unable to use the bathroom that matches the gender identity they live every day, it has a terrible impact on their ability to stay attentive in class, take part in teacher discussions and feel safe and welcomed at school. We must continue working at the state and local level to create a culture of inclusion while countering the bullying, harassment, social isolation, and bigotry that LGBTQ students face.”
Equality Florida’s Safe & Healthy Schools Program: http://www.eqfl.org/Safe_Schools