Dept. of Education Admits to Rejecting Civil Rights Complaints Brought by Transgender Students
February 12, 2018
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, responded to a shocking admission by the Department of Education regarding their refusal to respond to civil rights complaints filed by transgender students who are barred from using bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity.
“While civil rights advocates have suspected that the Department of Education was not acting on complaints brought forward by transgender students, reports that these violations are completely being ignored are reprehensible,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “The department’s failure to act conflicts with the law in multiple jurisdictions, including federal circuits, and further emboldens those who seek to discriminate against transgender students. Once again, Secretary DeVos proves she is not interested in protecting transgender students and instead is choosing to advance the dangerous Trump-Pence anti-LGBTQ agenda.”
Federal appeals courts in the 6th and 7th Circuits have ruled that transgender students are indeed covered under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1974. Additional federal circuit courts have ruled that analogous federal civil rights statutes which prohibit sex discrimination also prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity. These rulings mean that the Department of Education is responsible for enforcing these decisions and accepting complaints that allege civil rights violations.
Just last week more than 700 parents of transgender children signed an HRC letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos condemning her failure to protect transgender students and calling on her to recognize the basic human and civil rights of transgender young people in our nation’s schools. Also last week, Secretary DeVos complained about being criticized for not upholding the rights of students.
Since the beginning of the Trump-Pence administration, the Department of Education, under the leadership of Secretary DeVos, has worked to undermine the protections and enforcement of our nation’s civil rights laws. These actions, from withdrawing important guidance that clarified schools’ obligations to protect transgender students from discrimination under Title IX to rescinding Obama-era Title IX guidance related to schools' obligations to address sexual harassment and sexual violence, disproportionately impact LGBTQ people.