WASHINGTON — The Human Rights Campaign ( HRC ) responded Feb. 20 to media reports that the Trump administration plans to rescind guidance from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education regarding schools' obligations to transgender students under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. This news comes on the heels of the DOJ's recent decision to eliminate the Obama Administration's challenge to a nationwide injunction against enforcement of the guidance, allowing a nationwide hold to continue.
"Transgender young people face tragically high rates of discrimination and bullying, and they need a government that will stand up for them — not attack them, said HRC President Chad Griffin. It's shocking that this kind of harm would even be a subject of debate for the president. We call on Trump to immediately and permanently affirm the Obama Administration's guidance and protect transgender students."
In 2016, the 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 in our nation's schools. Last year, North Carolina adopted the infamous HB2, a law 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 recent GLSEN report. And, tragically, one study shows that more than 50 percent of transgender youth report attempting suicide at least once in their lifetime.
Last week, in response to the DOJ's action, more than 1,000 parents of transgender children sent a letter to President Donald Trump condemning the decision and calling on his administration to fully enforce federal civil rights laws. The letter, signed by parents from 45 states plus Washington, D.C., was organized by HRC 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. The parents, representing the thousands of families of transgender children across the country, wrote, "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."