Critics of Trump's trans bathroom policy point to bullying, violence, and suicide
Lawmakers and educators from both sides of the aisle have come out strongly against the Trump administration’s decision to revoke the Obama-era policy protecting transgender students under Title IX by allowing them to use bathrooms that match their gender identity.
The decision, announced Wednesday, was a major blow to trans and civil rights advocates, who viewed the federal guidance issued last May by the Department of Justice and Department of Education as an important step forward in affirming the dignity and humanity of transgender Americans. Trump’s move leaves the issue to the states.
GOP Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen from Florida condemned it in a statement. “This lamentable decision can lead to hostile treatment of transgender students, and studies have shown that bullying and harassment can be detrimental to the emotional and physical well-being of students,” wrote Ros-Lehtinen, who has a transgender son and has been an outspoken advocate of trans and LGBTQ rights. “Evidence has shown that acceptance of transgender students lowers their risk of suicide.”
Nearly 25 percent of transgender youth have attempted suicide, and 50 percent have seriously considered it, according to the Youth Suicide Prevention Program.
John Fluharty, former executive director of the Delaware Republican Party, who is also openly gay, wrote in a statement to VICE News: “Almost a decade of federal court rulings and agency opinions have determined that Title IX’s protections against sex discrimination, along with the Constitution’s guarantee of equal protection, apply to transgendered people. Why we’re even having this discussion is beyond me.”
Press Secretary Sean Spicer said earlier this week that President Trump believed that the matter of trans rights should be a state issue rather than a federal one. U.S. And Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a statement released Wednesday night said that the Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX with regards to trans students was wrong.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten thinks it’s Trump who’s wrong on this. “The Trump administration is compromising the safety and security of some of our most vulnerable children. Children, not ideology, should be the priority,” Weingarten wrote, adding that LGBTQ kids often endure “a disproportionate amount of bullying and violence at school leading to increased levels of fear, anxiety, or worse.”
National Education Association President Lily Eskelsen Garcia also commented, saying that Trump’s decision to rescind those protections for trans students was “dangerous, ill-advised, and unnecessary.” “We don’t teach hate, we do not tell people how to pray, we do not discriminate against people based on their religion, gender, or identity. Period,” Eskelsen Garcia wrote.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reportedly voiced concerns about revoking the policy with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, citing the high rates of suicide among trans students, the New York Times reported Wednesday, but she ultimately decided to add her signature after pressure from the president. Her tweet expressing solidarity for the LGBTQ community Thursday morning was widely denounced as hypocritical.