After some infighting within the administration, it’s official: schools no longer have to accommodate transgender students in terms of what bathrooms they use.
What’s going on?
Last year, President Obama issued an order indicating that all public schools must accommodate transgender students’ bathroom needs or risk losing federal funding. This move was never popular with Republicans, who just seem to get a kick out of persecuting LGBT people, even children.
Trump’s administration has rescinded that order, leaving the issue up to the schools.
Why is it important?
Since treating transgender people with even the slightest respect is a “culture war” issue, people’s lives are threatened by actions like this. The only saving grace in the order is that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, after initially refusing to support the order, obtained language to indicate that schools must not tolerate bullying of LGBT students. It’s better than nothing, I guess, but this shouldn’t be an issue in the first place. Republicans obsess over the essentially non-existent scenario in which predatory men go into women’s bathrooms to molest and rape under guise of being transgender. Why this would be happening in a school is anyone’s guess, but it’s not as if the objections here are rational–they are driven by baseless fearmongering.
Treating transgender youth as second-class citizens is actively harmful to them. Trans people already have much higher than average suicide rates, in large part because of the stigma and abuse they face. This will only worsen matters.
What can I do?
If you have children attending public school, make you opinion known: contact the school board, principal, teachers, the superintendent, and so on. Let them know that you support and encourage your schools treating transgender students with respect and consideration. It may fall on deaf ears, but if enough people get behind this, school districts will find it’s easier to accommodate than discriminate. Show up to school board meetings and make yourself heard, too.
Photo by sylvar