Forty-two days into Donald Trump’s presidency, Trump’s administration passed another Executive Order that revoked the Obama-era federal law that protected the rights of transgender students in educational facilities on February 22, 2017.
Trump’s administration withdrew one of former President Obama’s federal laws, Title IX, in a “Dear Colleague” letter, which declared that the law “lacked extensive legal analysis” and caused confusion amongst communities on how to handle transgender students in government-funded public schools. In the letter, the administration also stated that policies concerning transgender student rights should be made by the states’ legislatures instead of the federal government.
Press secretary Sean Spicer said, “This is a states’ rights issue, and not one for the federal government to solve.”
Former President Obama’s Title IX law was released in May 2016. The law prohibited discrimination toward transgender students in government-funded schools and gave them the right to use any bathroom or locker room that best accommodates their gender identity. Obama’s federal law was meant to protect all transgender students from bullying and harassment that they might encounter during or after their transition into male or female.
LGBTQ supporters were excited about Obama’s Title IX law since it was a great step forward toward acceptance of transgendered individuals in society. However, many conservatives were against Title IX because they believed that the government overstepped their power and that having transgender students use the same bathrooms as naturally born males or females invaded their privacy.
After Trump’s administration revoked Obama’s Title IX law, states were given the right to determine policies that will protect the privacy and safety of all students, including transgender students, in public schools. With the states newly granted right to decide upon the “bathroom debate,” the opinions of parents, teachers, and state legislatures will now be taken into consideration as they make new policies dealing with transgender rights.
The administration’s recent order sparked outrage throughout the country, which led to protests from LGBTQ supporters who were upset that transgender rights were not protected by the federal government anymore. Now that transgender rights are decided by state legislatures, their right to use the facility that goes along with their gender identity can be taken away, depending on the state that they live in.
Freshman Marissa Casella said, “This is a step backwards from all the work that has been done to protect people of the LGBTQ community. As a country, we are supposed to stand together, not rip each other apart, and if people could understand that not everyone is the same, unity would be much more achievable.”
Transgender students like Gavin Grimm, a senior in Gloucester High School in Virginia who sued the school after he was forced to use a unisex bathroom, spoke out about the administration’s order. Grimm will have a Supreme Court hearing about his case and said that he will continue to hope for a positive outcome and fair treatment towards transgender students despite their gender identity.
Sophmore Rachel Hansen said, “Though I see the order as unfair and a violation of civil rights, I am trying my hardest to keep an open mind – and it’s pretty difficult.”
Secretary of Education Betsy Devos reassured citizens and the LGBTQ community that the newly passed letter from the Department of Justice and Education will not promote the discrimination of transgender students, and will continue to fight for their rights.
Should the protection of transgender rights be in the hands of the federal U.S. government or should the states’ legislatures have control over the transgender rights?