During the election, many were opposed to Donald Trump because they feared that his presidency would signal a rollback in LGBTQ rights. Yesterday, on February 22, he confirmed these suspicions when his administration rescinded landmark Obama-era guidance that invoked federal law Title IX to order public schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms of their choice. Under Obama, the federal government maintained that Title IX, which bans sex discrimination in education, extended to gender identity. This interpretation of Title IX was a point of contention between the Obama administration and more conservative states who accused the federal government of overstepping it’s boundaries. As part of the reasoning for repealing the bathroom guidelines, recently appointed attorney general, Jeff Sessions (who has long been suspected of being an enemy of minority rights) said that the Obama order “did not contain sufficient legal analysis or explain how the interpretation was consistent with the language of Title IX.”
The manner in which Sessions repealed the Obama guideline is an illustration of the continuing chaos within Trump’s cabinet. Several leading republicans have said that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos did not want to cancel the order because of it’s potential harm to transgender students. Sessions, who needed her approval, persuaded Trump to side with him which meant that DeVos was then faced with the prospect of defying the president or resigning so she ultimately gave her support to Sessions. On Wednesday night she released a statement saying that she considered “protecting all students, including LGBTQ students, not only a key priority for the Department, but for every school in America.”
Just seeing the news about removing laws protecting trans people. This isn’t about politics. It’s about human rights, and it’s not okay.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) February 23, 2017
Since last May when Obama’s directive was implemented, Texas has led thirteen other sates in suing to stop the Obama guidelines and as a result the order was temporarily halted by an injunction by a US district judge. Last week, in a foreshadowing of things to come, Sessions canceled a scheduled hearing that would have appealed the injunction. Texas is currently pushing several anti-trans bills through the Senate and the House, including SB 6, which would put restrictions on restroom and locker room access to transgender people in TX government buildings. The bill mirrors North Carolina’s bathroom legislation, HB 2, which passed but caused numerous companies to withdraw their businesses from the state, resulting in millions of dollars in financial repercussions.
In response to the Texas bill, musician Jack Antonoff organized over 140 musicians including Sia, Grimes, Britney Spears, Whoopi Goldberg, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga to sign an open letter voicing their opposition to the proposed legislation. Award winning Boyhood director, Richard Linklater has teamed up wit the ACLU to create a public service announcement. Titled Taking a Seat, Making a Stand, the film asserts “You’ve got to pee with LGBT.”
White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, has said that the Trump administration was moved to rescind the Obama bathroom legislation because of a pending US Supreme Court Case. G.G. vs Glouchester County School Board involves Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy whose Virginia school barred him from using the men’s restrooms. Grimm won the favor of a lower court which is why his case is now headed to the Supreme Court. If he wins, his case could set a precedent that would go against Trump’s recent actions. The administration recently withdrew a letter from the Education Department that was written in support of Grimm.
Get more information on how to oppose SB 6 bill in Texas here.