Washington - Today, as reports surface that the Trump Administration plans to revoke guidance protecting transgender students nationwide, more than 1,000 parents of transgender children have now signed onto a letter to President Trump calling on him to preserve these vital protections and fully enforce federal civil rights laws. The letter, signed by parents from 45 states and Washington, D.C., was organized by the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, and its newly formed Parents for Transgender Equality Council, a coalition of the nation’s leading parent-advocates working for equality and fairness for transgender people.
“It’s disgraceful that just a week after undermining lifesaving protections for transgender students, reports are surfacing that President Donald Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Secretary DeVos are aiming to fully rescind guidance that provides support and security to tens of thousands of transgender young people and their families across the country,” said Mary Beth Maxwell, HRC’s Senior Vice President for Programs, Research and Training. “HRC is proud to stand with more than a thousand parents of transgender youth who have come together to implore Donald Trump to defend the rights, safety and dignity of their children. If President Trump moves forward with this attack on transgender students, there are millions of people, including these parents and others like them, who will stand up and fight for basic fairness for every child.”
The parents’ letter was initially sent to the Trump Administration with 800 signatures after news broke that the Department of Justice would no longer challenge a nationwide hold on the Obama-era transgender student guidance. The parents, representing the thousands of families of transgender children across the country, write, “No young person should wake up in the morning fearful of the school day ahead. When this guidance was issued last year, it provided our families -- and other families like our own across the country -- with the knowledge and security that our government was determined to protect our children from bullying and discrimination. Please do not take that away from us.”
In 2016, the Obama Administration’s Departments of Justice and Education issued comprehensive guidance to ensure that transgender students were being treated fairly and with dignity in public and federally-funded schools, including having equal access to sex-segregated facilities, such as restrooms and locker rooms, that are consistent with their gender identity. Thirteen anti-equality state attorneys general, led by the notoriously anti-LGBTQ Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, filed suit challenging the guidance. After a Texas federal judge issued a nationwide hold on enforcement of the guidance, the Obama Administration responded by requesting the court limit the hold to the 13 states filing suit.
A little more than a week ago, just 48 hours after Jeff Sessions was confirmed as Attorney General and a day after being sworn in, the Department of Justice moved to eliminate the Obama Administration's challenge to a nationwide injunction against enforcement of the guidance, allowing the nationwide hold to continue. Despite this action, transgender students facing discrimination can still file suit under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.
Transgender youth face significant discrimination and bullying throughout our nation’s schools. Last year, North Carolina adopted the infamous HB2, legislation requiring discrimination against transgender people, including in public schools. Several states, including Texas, are currently considering similar bills. Seventy-five percent of transgender students report feeling unsafe in school according to a report by GLSEN. And, tragically, more than 50 percent of transgender youth report attempting suicide at least once in their lifetime.
Several parents of transgender children are available to comment. Please contact Sarah McBride with inquiries.
Vanessa and JR Ford, Washington, DC
JR and Vanessa Ford live in Washington, DC with their two children, Ronnie, who is seven, and Ellie, who is five.Vanessa spent 14 years teaching in public schools in the District and now is the Director of Training and Curriculum for an education nonprofit. Since their youngest child transitioned to live as Ellie in early 2015, JR and Vanessa have worked to affirm her identity while raising awareness about and support for transgender youth. JR is part of HRC's Dads for Transgender Equality campaign and has written about his experience as a father to a transgender daughter for HRC and National Center for Transgender Equality.
Debi Jackson, Kansas City, MO
Because of her transgender daughter, Debi has become a political activist for LGBTQ rights and acceptance and now uses her communications skills as she travels the country speaking about transgender youth. She is a PFLAG chapter president and works with several other LGBTQ organizations. She shares her story to prove that conservative Southern families can be supportive of LGBTQ issues. Fearful of sending her child to public school, Debi has chosen to homeschool her daughter to ensure a safe and affirming learning environment.
Amber Briggle, Denton, TX
Amber Briggle is an entrepreneur, political junkie, committed volunteer and the proud mama bear of two amazing children, MG and Lulu. She has spoken publicly and passionately about the rights of the LGBTQ community, including giving a TEDx talk about her journey to accepting MG as transgender and the challenges and triumphs they now face as a family. Amber hosted Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for dinner in her home so that he could meet her transgender child face-to-face.
Peter Tchoryk, Dexter, MI
Peter Tchoryk and his wife, Sarah, live in Dexter, Michigan near Ann Arbor. They have two daughters, a son, who happens to be transgender, and three grandkids. Like many parents of transgender kids, Peter and Sarah consider themselves “sleeping giants” awakened to the needs of the LGBTQ community through their son. They are active in telling their family’s story in the media, workshops and at public forums in an effort to increase understanding.
To read the full letter, visit hrc.im/ParentsUnite.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
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