By Bonnie K. Goodman
President Donald Trump is going back on an order from his predecessor President Barack Obama on transgender students and bathroom choice in schools. In a new directive letter released Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, the administration is giving the states the right to decide which bathroom transgender students should be using in schools in their states. Democrats, who see it as a violation of civil rights, quickly denounced the letter. In the past, Trump seemed to support freedom of choice on the issue.
The letter from the Education and Justice Departments reversed Obama’s Title IX directive. In the letter, the departments wrote, “All schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment.” However, they indicated the decision must go to the states, “As President Trump has clearly stated, he believes policy regarding transgender bathrooms should be decided at the state level.” They claim the new letter “paves the way for an open and inclusive process to take place at the local level with input from parents, students, teachers, and administrators.”
At the center of the issue is North Carolina “bathroom law” HB2, the law requires that people whether transgender or not use the bathroom and locker room that matches “the sex on their birth certificate.” The law prevents transgenders from using the facilities of the sex they associate themselves. In the past, President Trump said transgenders should “use the bathroom they feel is appropriate.”
Congressional Democratic leadership was quick to denounce the new rules. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted, “Trump admin decision to roll back protections for transgender Americans is just plain wrong & cuts directly across the drive for equality. Equal rights & equal protection under the law arent issues that should be left to the states, they should be guaranteed for every American.” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi tweeted, “Civil rights are not confusing. No student should face discrimination because of who they are. #ProtectTransKids.” Protesters took up in from of the White House to object to the new rules.
The Trump administration defended their decision with statements from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Secretary De Vos expressed, “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. This is not merely a federal mandate, but a moral obligation.” Speaking at Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) De Vos said Obama’s directive was a “very huge example of the Obama administration’s overreach.” Still the Education Secretary claims, “It’s our job to protect students” and “to protect personal freedoms.”
While Attorney General Sessions stated, “Congress, state legislatures, and local governments are in a position to adopt appropriate policies or laws addressing this issue,” said in a statement Wednesday. The Department of Justice remains committed to the proper interpretation and enforcement of Title IX and to its protections for all students, including LGBTQ students, from discrimination, bullying, and harassment.”
Source: ABC News Radio Online