Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion work­ing on trans bath­room guide­lines

Cape Breton Post - - CLASSIFIEDS/WORLD -

The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion is work­ing on a new set of di­rec­tives on the use of school bath­rooms by transgender stu­dents, the White House said Tues­day.

The an­nounce­ment alarmed LGBT groups across the coun­try who have urged Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump to safe­guard Oba­maera guide­lines al­low­ing stu­dents to use school re­strooms that match their gen­der iden­tity, not their as­signed gen­der at birth.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer did not pro­vide any de­tails on the new guide­lines that are be­ing pre­pared by the Jus­tice Depart­ment, but said Trump has long held that such mat­ters should be left to the states, not the fed­eral govern­ment, to de­cide.

“I think that all you have to do is look at what the pres­i­dent’s view has been for a long time, that this is not some­thing the fed­eral govern­ment should be in­volved in, this is a states’ rights is­sue,’’ Spicer said.

The guid­ance, is­sued by the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion in May, held that transgender stu­dents can ac­cess re­strooms and par­tic­i­pate in school ath­letic teams ac­cord­ing with the gen­der they iden­tify with. Schools were also in­structed to treat stu­dents in line with their ex­pressed gen­der iden­tity with­out re­quir­ing any med­i­cal proof.

While the move was hailed by rights or­ga­ni­za­tions, it was at­tacked by con­ser­va­tive groups, which called it fed­eral over­reach and an in­fringe­ment on the per­sonal space and safety of all other stu­dents.

The Na­tional Cen­ter for Transgender Equal­ity said Tues­day that even with­out for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s guide­lines, fed­eral law _ called Ti­tle IX _ would still pro­hibit dis­crim­i­na­tion against stu­dents based on their gen­der or sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion. Still, re­scind­ing those di­rec­tives would put chil­dren in harm’s way, the group said.

“Such clear ac­tion di­rected at chil­dren would be a brazen and shame­less at­tack on hun­dreds of thou­sands of young Amer­i­cans who must al­ready de­fend them­selves against school­yard bul­lies, but are ill-equipped to fight bul­lies on the floors of their state leg­is­la­tures and in the White House,’’ NCTE said in a state­ment.

But Ryan An­der­son, a se­nior re­search fel­low with the con­ser­va­tive Her­itage Foun­da­tion, said the Obama guide­lines were un­law­ful be­cause Ti­tle IX pro­tects stu­dents based on their sex, not their gen­der iden­tity. He also said that those di­rec­tives vi­o­lated the rights of other stu­dents, es­pe­cially girls who may have suf­fered from sex­ual abuse in the past and do not want to be ex­posed to male anatomy. “It’s un­der­stand­able when a 16-year-old girl might not want an anatom­i­cal male in the shower or the locker room,’’ An­der­son said.

He said that stu­dents, par­ents and teach­ers should work out “win-win’’ so­lu­tions at the lo­cal level, such as equip­ping schools with sin­gle-oc­cu­pancy re­strooms or locker rooms or al­low­ing stu­dents to ac­cess the fac­ulty lounge.

“We can find a way in which the pri­vacy and safety of transgender stu­dents is re­spected while also re­spect­ing the pri­vacy and safety of all other stu­dents,’’ An­der­son said.

About 150,000 youth _ 0.7 per cent_ be­tween the ages of 13 and 17 in the United States iden­tify as transgender, ac­cord­ing to a study by The Wil­liams In­sti­tute at the UCLA School of Law.

Rachel Tiven, CEO of Lambda Le­gal, an LGBT ad­vo­cacy group, strongly con­demned plans to amend the Obama-era in­struc­tions. At the same time, Tiven stressed that the guid­ance wasn’t legally bind­ing and was merely a tool to help school dis­tricts com­ply with the fed­eral law. Re­scind­ing the guide­lines won’t change the law, but give states and dis­tricts more free­dom in in­ter­pret­ing and act­ing on it. As a re­sult, she ar­gued, there will be con­fu­sion and school dis­tricts will be more open to law­suits.

“The im­por­tant thing to un­der­stand is that it doesn’t change the un­der­ly­ing law, but it’s an in­vi­ta­tion to harm the most vul­ner­a­ble kids in school,’’ Tiven said.

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