Trans­gen­der kids’ kin ask Trump for meet­ing

Ul­ti­mately, the Supreme Court will have to de­cide whether Ti­tle IX, the fed­eral law pro­hibit­ing sex dis­crim­i­na­tion in fed­er­ally funded schools, pro­tects trans­gen­der stu­dents.

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NATIONAL - EMMA BROWN

The par­ents of eight trans­gen­der chil­dren from across the coun­try have re­quested a meet­ing with Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and key ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials to dis­cuss the ef­fects of the de­ci­sion to with­draw fed­eral guid­ance ex­plain­ing what the na­tion’s pub­lic schools must do to pro­tect trans­gen­der stu­dents.

“We are heart­bro­ken and scared about what this means,” the par­ents said Fri­day in a let­ter to Trump, At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions and Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Betsy DeVos. “This ac­tion ex­poses trans­gen­der stu­dents to ha­rass­ment and dis­crim­i­na­tion in their own class­rooms, places they should feel safe and able to learn.”

A White House spokesman could not im­me­di­ately say whether Trump had seen the let­ter, but he said the pres­i­dent has made clear that he’s open to meet­ing with a va­ri­ety of peo­ple to im­prove Amer­i­cans’ lives. An Ed­u­ca­tion De­part­ment spokesman did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

The let­ter was signed by par­ents from Ari­zona, Florida, Maine, Michi­gan, Mis­souri, Texas and Wash­ing­ton, D.C. They are mem­bers of the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign’s Par­ents for Trans­gen­der Equal­ity Coun­cil, and many of them have be­come lead­ing voices in the ef­fort to raise aware­ness about and ad­vo­cate for the needs of trans­gen­der peo­ple.

They in­clude Debi and Tom Jack­son, whose daugh­ter Avery ap­peared on the cover of Na­tional Geo­graphic in Jan­uary, and Ron Ford Jr. and Vanessa Ford, who have writ­ten about their daugh­ter, El­lie, in The Wash­ing­ton Post.

“We are con­tin­u­ing to fight,” Ron Ford said Wednes­day, the day Trump with­drew the guid­ance, at a rally in sup­port of trans­gen­der chil­dren in front of the White House. Ford’s short speech was cap­tured on video and posted on Face­book. “Ev­ery­one needs to be pro­tected in school, in their com­mu­ni­ties. Just be­cause they re­scinded the guid­ance … doesn’t meant that we all stop. We do not stop.”

The guid­ance from for­mer Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s ad­min­is­tra­tion spec­i­fied not only that trans­gen­der chil­dren should be al­lowed to use re­strooms match­ing their gen­der iden­tity, but also how schools should nav­i­gate ques­tions about which names and pro­nouns to use and which ath­letic team a child should be per­mit­ted to join. Many par­ents of trans­gen­der chil­dren em­braced the guid­ance, say­ing it made them feel as if Wash­ing­ton cared about — and was will­ing to pro­tect — their chil­dren.

But the guid­ance also trig­gered a back­lash from par­ents, ac­tivists and elected of­fi­cials who ar­gued that al­low­ing trans­gen­der stu­dents ac­cess to re­strooms match­ing their gen­der iden­tity would vi­o­late the pri­vacy and dig­nity of other stu­dents. More than a dozen states sued to block the guid­ance, and in Au­gust, a fed­eral judge is­sued a na­tion­wide in­junc­tion tem­po­rar­ily pro­hibit­ing the fed­eral govern­ment from en­forc­ing it.

Ul­ti­mately, the Supreme Court will have to de­cide whether Ti­tle IX, the fed­eral law pro­hibit­ing sex dis­crim­i­na­tion in fed­er­ally funded schools, pro­tects trans­gen­der stu­dents. A de­ci­sion could come as early as this year in a case in­volv­ing a trans­gen­der teen who sued a Vir­ginia school board af­ter he was barred from us­ing the boys re­stroom at school.

DeShanna Neal, of Wilm­ing­ton, Del., said she hopes that Trump and his Cabi­net sec­re­taries will be will­ing to lis­ten to par­ents. Neal be­gan home-school­ing her daugh­ter in kinder­garten out of fear for the child’s safety in schools that weren’t pre­pared to ad­dress her needs. Her daugh­ter is now 13 and plans to at­tend high school next year.

“I want to sit down with Trump and DeVos and Ses­sions and say look, when I gave birth to my child, never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d have to fight for her equal rights. I just as­sumed she’d have them be­cause she is a hu­man be­ing,” Neal said. In­stead, she said, she wor­ries about the dis­crim­i­na­tion her daugh­ter may face not only be­cause she is trans­gen­der, but also be­cause she is black.

“I want them to un­der­stand that she be­longs here. My daugh­ter is a per­son; she’s an Amer­i­can. She wants to get an ed­u­ca­tion just like any­body else.”

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