Transgender people have faced much adversity, particularly when it comes to legal equality. On Feb. 22, that struggle became more arduous after President Trump rescinded transgender student protections.
The revoked ruling prevents transgender students from using the bathrooms that correlate with their gender identities. He announced the decision in a joint letter with the Justice and Education Departments. Accordingly, they stated the previous protection of transgender students infringed on schools making the decisions themselves.
Former President Barack Obama created the protection in 2016. President Donald Trump’s administration claims the order was an ill-advised decision. They claim it was created “without due regard for the primary role of the states and the local school districts in establishing educational policy.”
DeVos Supports Transgender Equality
Initially, the informally known ‘bathroom debate’ created a standstill between Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions, who openly opposes expanding gay, lesbian and transgender rights, wanted DeVos to sign the decision immediately. Officials say his rushed approval of rescinding the rights is because of two court cases that would have likely caused further government litigation.
DeVos, however, said at first that she was uncomfortable with the potential harm the rule could cause. Because she refused to budge, Sessions reportedly discussed the matter with President Trump. After siding with Sessions, Trump convinced DeVos to approve the new ruling.
Despite the administration forcing her into approving the legislation, she released a statement Wednesday night inconspicuously disapproving of the stance. She said people are responsible for protecting students and providing the freedom to learn and thrive in a safe environment.
“This is not merely a federal mandate, but a moral obligation no individual, school, district, or state can abdicate,” she said. “We owe all student a commitment to ensure they have access to a learning environment that is free of discrimination, bullying and harassment.”
Accordingly, individual schools and states can now make rules regarding transgender students and bathroom usage. As stated in the official guidance, the new rule does not permit schools and states to neglect transgender protections.
“All schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment,” it reads. “The Department of Education Office for Civil Rights will continue its duty under law to hear all claims of discrimination and will explore every appropriate opportunity to protect all students and to encourage civility in our classrooms.”