Center on the Issues: Executive Order Rescinding IX Guidance for Transgender Students

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Through a joint letter from the top civil rights officials from the Justice Department and the Education Department, last week President Trump rescinded protections for transgender students.

During his campaign, while trying to persuade LGBTQ communities that he did not oppose our rights, President Trump was heavily courting the religious right, which stands in direct opposition to LGBTQ rights. The moment he took office, Trump surrounded himself with people such as now Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is on record opposing hate crimes protections for LGBTQ people because he felt such protections were not warranted.

The move to leave the protection of some of our community’s most vulnerable members to local administrators has already proven to be disastrous, to the degree that suicide rates and health and safety disparities for transgender youth are alarmingly high. It is noteworthy that Ms. DeVos opposed rescinding the guidance and issued a directive to the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights to investigate all claims of discrimination, bullying, and harassment.

When the Obama administration formalized their stance that public schools have a responsibility to protect transgender students under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, our community felt both relief and hope. Schools were told that if they received federal funding, they must treat a student’s gender as their sex and allow them to, for instance, use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity.

Parents began to more openly talk about and support their transgender children who in turn felt safer coming out in school. They took courageous steps forward to live authentically. Last week, state officials who chose to use policies to advance a conservative moral agenda rather than to protect its people rolled back protections and increased their vulnerability.

The direct line from bullying in schools to homelessness for transgender youth has been documented in studies by national LGBTQ organizations. In a survey of homeless youth providers by the True Colors Fund, it was noted that 20% of the youth they served had dropped out of high school. When compared with the 6.5% dropout rate for all youth, it is clear that protections and a strong show of support by our nation’s highest office are imperative.

While the Title IX Guidance had not changed any laws, it did signal that the country was moving in the right direction toward protecting our transgender youth. The laws cited by the guidance remain in place and can continue to be used. And, for 18 states and more than 200 cities where there are comprehensive nondiscrimination laws protecting transgender individuals, those protections can be paired with Title IX. What has changed, however, is that transgender youth and those who care about their well-being have witnessed the striking of a vital source of support. Further, it sets the tone of the administration’s legal position on transgender policy as high profile cases move through the courts.

Center on Halsted sees firsthand the impact of discrimination on LGBTQ young people in its Department of Youth Programming.

“We see young people come from all over the Chicagoland area — and beyond — many of whom identify as transgender or are questioning their identity. They come to us because they don’t feel safe at home or in their schools,” says Greg Storms, Director of Youth Programming. “It is a community duty to ensure we welcome our young people and in turn prioritize advocating for them on the path towards equal rights for all.

Here is what you can do:

· Contact the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) hotline and explain why equal access to education for all youth — including transgender youth — is essential.
OCR Hotline: 800–421–3481

· Call the White House to share your concerns about revocation of the Title IX guidance and explain why it is detrimental to equal access to education for transgender youth:
White House Switchboard: 202–456–1414

· March with us! Numerous marches in Chicago have already occurred and are planned, including one on Friday March 3rd at 6:00 p.m. at Wacker & Wabash.

· Celebrate the Trans community with us on March 31st for Trans Day of Visibility!

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