Trump Rescinds Rules on Bathrooms for Transgender Students

From The New York Times:

WASHINGTON — President Trump on Wednesday rescinded protections for transgender students that had allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity, overruling his own education secretary and placing his administration firmly in the middle of the culture wars that many Republicans have tried to leave behind.

In a joint letter, the top civil rights officials from the Justice Department and the Education Department rejected the Obama administration’s position that nondiscrimination laws require schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice.

That directive, they said, was improperly and arbitrarily devised, “without due regard for the primary role of the states and local school districts in establishing educational policy.”

The question of how to address the “bathroom debate,” as it has become known, opened a rift inside the Trump administration, pitting Education Secretary Betsy DeVos against Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Mr. Sessions, who had been expected to move quickly to roll back the civil rights expansions put in place under his Democratic predecessors, wanted to act decisively because of two pending court cases that could have upheld the protections and pushed the government into further litigation.

But Ms. DeVos initially resisted signing off and told Mr. Trump that she was uncomfortable because of the potential harm that rescinding the protections could cause transgender students, according to three Republicans with direct knowledge of the internal discussions.

Mr. Sessions, who has opposed expanding gay, lesbian and transgender rights, pushed Ms. DeVos to relent. After getting nowhere, he took his objections to the White House because he could not go forward without her consent. Mr. Trump sided with his attorney general, the Republicans said, and told Ms. DeVos in a meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday that he wanted her to drop her opposition. And Ms. DeVos, faced with the alternative of resigning or defying the president, agreed to go along.

Ms. DeVos’s unease was evident in a strongly worded statement she released on Wednesday night, in which she said she considered it a “moral obligation” for every school in America to protect all students from discrimination, bullying and harassment.

She said she had directed the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights to investigate all claims of such treatment “against those who are most vulnerable in our schools,” but also argued that bathroom access was not a federal matter.

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Milo and the Moral Corruption of the Conservative Movement

From The American Prospect:

He may not be an ideological conservative, but the movement created him. Now it must own him and the hatred he spews.

Since the early days of its ascendance in the Republican Party, the conservative movement’s leaders have advanced their cause on two major claims that have shaped conservatism’s identity: moral rectitude and love of the Constitution. As it turns out, that was quite a sell job.

The hatred espoused by Trump and the cretins he’s defended, such as Breitbart News phenomenon Milo Yiannopoulos, initially found its voice, often in more polite language, in the conservative movement. Milo and the Donald may not be ideological conservatives, but they are nonetheless creations of the conservative movement. As I’ve noted before, these are players savvy enough to understand that conservatism never was fueled by ideology; it was always fueled by contempt for everyone other than non-Jewish white men.

Take the recent flap over the scheduled appearance of Breitbart News editor Milo Yiannopoulos to keynote the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), which will take place later this week at a resort near Washington, D.C. After consternation reached a fever pitch over a video, long available online, showing Yiannopoulos saying that sex between men and pubescent boys could be a good thing for the boys, CPAC rescinded its invitation to the right’s favorite bad boy.

But CPAC’s addition of Yiannopoulos to its schedule came the day after an appearance on HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, in which the self-styled flamboyant bomb-thrower revealed his hatred toward everybody but white men. It wasn’t until video went viral on Monday from an appearance last year on a radio show called The Drunken Peasants, in which Yiannopoulos made his now-infamous pedophilia endorsement—courtesy of a tweet from a right-wing outfit called the Reagan Batallion—that CPAC rescinded its invitation.

Responding via his personal account on Twitter, Brendan Karet of Media Matters for America, put it succinctly:

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Even for a Bully Like Trump, Attacking Children Is a New Low

From Lambda Legal:

Rachel B. Tiven, CEO
February 22, 2017

Today, the U.S. Department of Education rescinded the Obama administration’s 2016 Title IX guidance clarifying the rights of transgender students.

We all know that Donald Trump is a bully, but this attack on transgender children is a new low. Today’s move could endanger the well-being and safety of children across the country.

Trump’s actions do not change the law itself — transgender students remain protected by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 — but abandoning the guidance intentionally creates confusion about what federal law requires. The law bars discrimination — the new administration invites it.

Betsy DeVos became Education Secretary just one week ago. At her brief confirmation hearing, she publicly committed to protecting LGBT students — this harms them.

Over the past week, Donald Trump has attacked perhaps the two most vulnerable groups of children in America: transgender children and refugee children. While his Education Secretary was busy withdrawing protective guidance for trans kids, his Homeland Security Secretary signed memos that strip legal protections from children who arrive alone at our borders, seeking refuge.

Now Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary DeVos give us sickening echoes of the racially segregated schools era by claiming that enforcement of this federal civil rights law is a “states’ rights issue.” This is not just a bizarre misunderstanding. We recognize that language. This is a cynical rejection of the federal government’s responsibility to enforce federal law protections for vulnerable students.

While the Trump/Pence administration wages its War on Children, we at Lambda Legal will redouble our efforts to protect transgender and other vulnerable kids. We are already in court fighting for transgender students, and we are prepared to sue any school district that discriminates in the wake of the Trump administration’s actions today.

If you experience discrimination, contact Lambda Legal’s Help Desk.

Read the press release.

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President Trump’s Laws Can’t Take Away Transgender Students’ Worth

From Teen Vogue:

Sarah McBride
Feb 23, 2017

In this op-ed, Sarah McBride — the national press secretary of the Human Rights Campaign, and first openly transgender person to speak at a major party convention — has a message to share with transgender students in the wake of Donald Trump revoking guidance that let transgender students to use the bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity at public schools.

To the trans students wondering about their place in this country: I know you may feel alone right now. There is no question — any rollback of transgender rights is a disgraceful setback. But I want you to know that whatever happens in Washington, you are loved and you matter. No presidency, no discriminatory action, no hateful bill can change those facts.

The rescinding of protective guidance for our nation’s schools on the inclusion of transgender students is a heartbreaking decision. And after hearing the news, you may be fearful of what the future will bring and questioning whether the heart of this country is big enough to love you, too. Many of you may be scared for your safety and concerned about the message this sends to bullies in classrooms, neighborhoods and, even, state legislatures. Those are understandable fears. And to be totally honest, as a transgender person myself, I’ve shared those fears at times, too. I know it’s hard to make sense of all of this. You are just trying to go to school and these politicians keep finding new ways to make your lives harder. But I want you to know that regardless of who is in the White House — and no matter what steps he takes to roll back our progress — millions of Americans stand with you.

And you know better than most people that treating trans students with dignity and respect doesn’t infringe on the rights of others. And while bullying and discrimination remain far too common, more and more friends, families, and faculty members are welcoming transgender young people with broad smiles and open hearts.

Despite the exceptions, schools across the country have been welcoming and affirming transgender young people for years, and in some cases decades. Many of you find yourselves in school districts in cities like Fort Worth, Texas, and Minneapolis, Minnesota — places that have already adopted inclusive school policies or in one of the 20 states plus Washington DC that have statewide non-discrimination protections for transgender people. Even without this guidance, those clear policies can and should continue. As will the court cases and rulings that have overwhelmingly found that trans people, including trans students, are protected under federal civil rights law. In fact, a young trans boy from Virginia named Gavin Grimm, who is facing discrimination from his local school board, is courageously leading this fight. His case comes before the Supreme Court this spring.

Unfortunately, like Gavin, some of you may live in districts that resist your rights and try to deny your dignity. Others may live in states that have passed or are considering passing vile, anti-transgender laws. This guidance was an important layer of security and support in navigating the frequently harsh environments encountered by transgender young people. The rescinding of that guidance is a cruel and mean-spirited attack, but it is far from the end of this fight.

It can all seem like so much. From bills like North Carolina’s HB2 to this most recent action by President Trump, it’s easy to get demoralized. It’s easy to think that as transgender people or as young people that your voice doesn’t matter. But it does.

Throughout our country, we’ve seen the power of one voice to change a school, a home, or a workplace. Through your example, you are opening hearts, changing minds and helping to build an alliance of allies that is ready to speak out and act up.

And the bullies, they see that. They see our power in living our truth and in changing the world through our authenticity. Make no mistake, you are powerful. We are powerful. And, together, we are unstoppable.

With love and solidarity, Sarah McBride


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When Trump Voters Say They “Suffered For 8 Years Under Obama,” Here’s The Perfect Response

From Occupy Democrats:


One of many, many infuriating parts of having Trump as the President is the insufferable smugness of conservatives. When they’re not telling you to “suck it up, snowflake” or trying to sell you fake news, they’re gloating: “We suffered for eight years under that tyrant Obummer. Now it’s your turn.”

One man, Scott Mednick had enough with his Republican acquaintances and penned this powerful response:

“I am surprised you would wish suffering upon me. That, of course, is your right, I suppose. I do not wish harm on anyone. Your statement seems to continue the ‘US v THEM’ mentality. The election is over. It is important to get past campaigning and campaign rhetoric and get down to what is uniting, not dividing and what is best for ALL Americans.

There will never be a President who does everything to everyone’s liking. There are things President Obama (and President Clinton) did that I do not like and conversely there are things I can point to that the Presidents Bush did that I agree with. So I am not 100% in lock step with the outgoing President but have supported him and the overall job he did.

And, if you recall, during the Presidential Campaign back in 2008 the campaign was halted because of the “historic crisis in our financial system.” Wall Street bailout negotiations intervened in the election process. The very sobering reality was that there likely could be a Depression and the world financial markets could collapse. The United States was losing 800,000 jobs a month and was poised to lose at least 10 million jobs the first year once the new President took office. We were in an economic freefall. So let us recall that ALL of America was suffering terribly at the beginning of Obama’s Presidency.

But I wanted to look back over the last 8 years and ask you a few questions. Since much of the rhetoric before Obama was elected was that he would impose Sharia Law, Take Away Your Guns, Create Death Panels, Destroy the Economy, Impose Socialism and, since you will agree that NONE of this came to pass, I was wondering: Why have you suffered so?

So let me ask: Gays and Lesbians can now marry and enjoy the benefits they had been deprived of. Has this caused your suffering?

When Obama took office, the Dow was 6,626. Now it is 19,875. Has this caused your suffering?

We had 82 straight months of private sector job growth – the longest streak in the history of the United States. Has this caused your suffering?

Especially considering where the economy was when he took over, an amazing 11.3 million new jobs were created under President Obama (far more than President Bush). Has this caused your suffering?

Obama has taken Unemployment from 10% down to 4.7%. Has this caused your suffering?

Homelessness among US Veterans has dropped by half. Has this caused your suffering?

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Trump administration rescinds Obama-era protections for transgender students

From The Guardian UK:

US withdrew guidance stating federal law requires transgender students to have unfettered access to bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity

in Washington and in New York
Thursday 23 February

The Trump administration has withdrawn a piece of federal guidance requiring transgender students to have unfettered access to bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identity, in a move that could embolden many schools to restrict trans rights.

In doing so, the administration has signaled that it does not necessarily interpret current federal civil rights protections as prohibiting discrimination based on gender identity.

A joint letter released by the departments of justice and education on Wednesday cited the legal battle on this question as justification for rescinding the guidance, “in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved”.

“In addition, the Departments believe that … there must be due regard for the primary role of the States and local school districts in establishing education policy,” the letter added.

The Obama administration issued the guidance in May 2016, in response to growing confusion and controversy over how schools should accommodate transgender students. The letter released on Wednesday left one major piece of that guidance intact: a recognition that schools bear some responsibility to prevent bullying and harassment of transgender students.

LGBT rights groups on Wednesday assailed the administration.

“This is a mean-spirited attack on hundreds of thousands of students who simply want to be their true selves and be treated with dignity while attending school,” said Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “These young people already face incredible hurdles in their pursuit of education and acceptance. With a pen stroke, the Trump administration effectively sanctions the bullying, ostracizing, and isolation of these children, putting their very lives in danger.”

Opponents of such a change also argued that the impact of the announcement would be blunted by existing law. The administration, they argued, does not have the authority to revoke rights that have been recognised several times in the federal courts.

“Rescinding the guidance does not change the rights of students under Title IX [the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education and activities],” Chase Strangio, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, wrote on Tuesday. “Trans students are protected from discrimination by federal law and the administration can’t change that.”

That argument is the subject of a forthcoming supreme court case. On 28 March, lawyers for Gavin Grimm, a Virginia high school student, will contend that federal laws against sex discrimination extend to bias against transgender people. Grimm claims his school is discriminating against him by refusing to allow him access to the boys’ bathroom.

Several federal appeals courts have already ruled that discriminating against transgender people based on their gender identity is a violation of federal law. In 2016, the fourth circuit court of appeals ruled in Grimm’s favor.

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