Politico reported late Wednesday afternoon (February 22) that the Trump administration told schools that an Obama directive aimed at protecting the rights of transgender students has given rise to lawsuits and confusion – so it’s pulling it back.
A guidance letter to schools, released by the Justice and Education departments, said the administration has “decided to withdraw and rescind” the Obama directive “in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved,” Politico reported.
The Supreme Court is set to hear arguments next month in a case about the rights of a transgender student, Gavin Grimm, in a Virginia public high school. On Tuesday night, the Justice Department advised the justices about the federal government policy change – a move which could lead the high court to drop the pending case and leave the legal issue to be resolved at a later date, Politico reported.
Local officials blasted the administration’s actions.
“President Trump is on a crusade to Make America Hate Again and LGBT Americans must join other people of conscience to stop him,” gay District 8 Supervisor Jeff Sheehy said in a statement. “As a public school parent, I’m outraged and saddened that he would deny young people respect, dignity and the ability to live as their authentic selves. We shouldn’t be surprised given how little regard he gives to public education in the first place. As a San Franciscan, I remain committed to speaking out against hatred and organizing to ensure equality for all. Moving backwards in our path toward equality is unacceptable.”
San Francisco school officials also weighed in.
“Today’s decision to rescind protections against transgender students is a misguided act that will victimize children most in need of our support,” gay interim San Francisco school superintendent Myong Leigh, school board President Shamann Walton, and Mayor Ed Lee said in a joint statement.
Leigh, Walton, and Lee said that “All students deserve to learn in an atmosphere that is free of fear and discrimination. While attending school, no child should feel overwhelmed by the simple decision of which bathroom to use, or fear the consequences of entering a locker room.”
The San Francisco Unified School District has a policy in place that explicitly prohibits gender-based discrimination, a protection that extends to everyone, including transgender students, the statement said. “San Francisco is proud that we were the first City in the country to include those safeguards to our transgender student body. We will continue to honor those policies and ensure that all of our students feel safe and comfortable when they enter our classrooms.”
“We became the first city in the nation to appoint a Transgender Initiatives Adviser to hasten the implementation of policies and protections for the transgender community. At a time when civil rights are under attack, we will continue to work locally to protect all of our residents from harassment and discrimination,” Leigh, Walton, and Lee stated.