Post submitted by Jordan Dashow, former Federal Policy Manager
Today, 122 Members of Congress signed on to a bipartisan letter urging President Trump to reinstate critical guidance detailing schools’ obligations to transgender students under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Education (ED) issued the guidance under President Obama’s leadership in 2016. The DOJ and ED, under the direction of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, rescinded the guidance last month.
The bipartisan letter, which was led by LGBT Equality Caucus co-chair Rep. Marc Pocan (D-WI) and endorsed by HRC, states in part:
“The federal guidance issued in May 2016 pertaining to transgender students reflects over a decade of case law and proven best practices from schools around the country. The Departments issued this guidance at the request of educators across the country seeking clarification about how to best comply with existing laws. National leaders in education - including the leading associations of teachers, principals, pediatricians, and school counselors and psychologists - supported this clarification.
Title IX provides transgender students the right to equal treatment in accordance with their gender identity. Unfortunately, rescinding this guidance only serves to confuse school administrators and take away a vital tool for students and their families who want to be treated with dignity and respect. Further, this action sends the wrong message - a very dangerous message - to transgender youth and their peers.”
As these members of Congress make clear transgender students are still entitled to the legal protections guaranteed by Title IX. However, the DOJ and ED’s decision to rescind the guidance obfuscates schools’ obligations to transgender youth -- who face disproportionately high rates of bullying, harassment and discrimination -- and sends a dangerous message that the current administration will not enforce inclusive policies or stand up for them at school.
Before the Obama Administration released the guidance, HRC had called on the Department of Education to clarify schools’ obligations to protect transgender students under Title IX. When news broke that the Trump Administration was considering rescinding this guidance, HRC organized a letter to the president, signed by more than 1,000 parents of transgender children, asking him not to roll back this guidance and to fully enforce federal civil rights laws. Following the decision to rescind the guidance, members of HRC's Parents for Transgender Equality Council sent a letter to President Trump requesting a meeting to discuss the impact that his Administration’s actions will have on hundreds of thousands of American families.
HRC applauds the 122 Members of Congress who urged President Trump to reinstate this critical guidance and meet with transgender students and their families to learn firsthand about their experience in schools.