Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Transgender Protections Are A Federal–Not State–Issue

Yesterday the Trump administration levied an attack on our community’s youth.

By rescinding protection for transgender students that was in place under the Obama administration, Trump has proven that his campaign promise to protect LGBTQ people was a lie.

What’s worse is that White House Press Secretary Secretary Sean Spicer justified the reversal by saying that the president has believed “for a long time that this is a states’ rights issue and not one for the federal government.”

“I think all you have to do is look at what the president’s views had been for a long time that this is not something that the federal government should be involved in,” he said. “This a states’ rights issue.”

When I hear states’ rights, I hear Civil War. I hear Jim Crow and separate but equal. I hear the echoes of all of those cobbled-together pieces of legislation from our dark past that legalized discrimination.

Plainly, all students deserve the dignity of being free from harassment and discrimination That includes use of the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identities. Refusing to protect our most vulnerable youth is deplorable and dangerous.

Three out of four transgender youth report feeling unsafe at school. More than 40 percent have been physically abused at school; more than half report skipping school to avoid bullying. Toxic schools contribute to higher rates of suicide, depression, homelessness, and HIV infection for transgender youth. What the Trump administration has said is that issues of basic safety and protection are best left up to the states.

Trump’s order takes place one month before the US Supreme Court is set to review the existing guidance in the case of Gloucester County Schools v. Gavin Grimm as well as whether Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 — the law on which Obama’s original guidance is based — assures transgender students access to the restroom corresponding to their gender identity.

And it is with the courts that the future welfare of our transgender students will hopefully be secured.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said it best “Enforcing federal laws like Title IX is a federal duty, not a state-by-state option. A child in Alabama deserves protection as much as a child in New York.”

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