Tag Archives: Student

Department of Education to dismiss ALL transgender student bathroom access complaints, nationwide

The Department of Education, helmed in this new Republican era of ensuring every federal department is governed by someone who objects to the very premise of their office by the very wealthy anti-public-education Betsy DeVos, has summarily declared that they will be ignoring any and all complaints filed by transgender students over school bathrooms. As in, all of them, nationwide, without exception.

Finally on Thursday, Liz Hill, a spokesperson for the agency, responded “yes, that’s what the law says” when asked again if the Education Department holds a current position that restroom complaints from transgender students are not covered by a 1972 federal civil rights law called Title IX.

Asked for further explanation on the department’s position, Hill said Friday, “Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity.”

The declaration is specific to transgender students and bathrooms. As of now, any transgender students complaining about bathroom access will find their complaints summarily dismissed. And DeVos and company are taking this position despite multiple federal court rulings saying otherwise, because the Trumpites apparently just feel like doing that.

This new policy, in which an entire category of student complaints will now be summarily dismissed in order to comport with anti-LGBTQ Republican ideologies, comes on the immediate heels of incompetent whining rich person DeVos complaining that it is “hurtful” to criticize her for her department’s actions.

“It’s hurtful to me when I’m criticized for not upholding the rights of students, the civil rights of students,” DeVos told a small group of media outlets, as reported by Politico.

“Nothing could be further from the truth,” she added. “I have to turn it back around and say why do I keep getting criticized for that? I mean, nothing that I’ve done would suggest otherwise.”

In conclusion, Betsy DeVos is a terrible person, is still unfit for her position and incompetent in her pronouncements, and apparently exists only as another wealthy pen-holder who will sign off on implementing the cruel ideological demands of a radicalized Republican B-team. Terribly sorry to be hurtful, Bets, but at least the federal government lets you use the Department of Education bathrooms.

Apple Music is expanding student memberships to 82 new markets

 Apple Music is expanding its subscription music service to 82 new markets — or nearly all of the countries where the service is available, according to people with knowledge of the company’s plans. 79 markets launched today and an additional three markets will go live February 26. Some countries where students memberships — verified by UNiDAYS — are now available… Read More

Twinning! Texas Teacher Surprises 4-Year-Old Student by Getting Same Hairstyle: 'Her Jaw Dropped'

A Texas teacher went above and beyond — in the sweetest way — recently for one of her pre-kindergarten students.

It all started when 4-year-old August arrived at Lakeview Elementary in Sugar Land with her hair in cornrows, beads and a little bun.

“Her hair was just really, really cute. So I told her, ‘Oh my goodness … I know exactly what I’m doing to my hair. I told her I was gonna do it just like hers,” her teacher, Leigha Bishop, 29, tells PEOPLE, noting that August didn’t believe her. “She looked at me and rolled her eyes like, ‘yeah right!’ ”

That night, Bishop kept her promise, fashioning her hair just like the little girl’s. And the next day, Jan. 30, the devoted teacher couldn’t wait to show August her new ‘do.

“She stepped out of the car and her jaw dropped,” Bishop says. “I was like, ‘I told you I like your hair! So we’re gonna be cute together.’ ”

Throughout the day, August was nearly speechless, often blushing when Bishop would call on her in class.

“She was shocked. She just didn’t know what to say,” Bishop tells PEOPLE of August. “She was pretty quiet the whole day, which wasn’t really like her. All the kids were like, ‘Ms. Bishop’s hair is just like yours!’ ”

With August’s parents’ permission, Bishop shared a photo of the twinning moment online, and it quickly made its way around the Internet. The picture amassed more than 16,000 likes on Facebook and more than 2,000 retweets on Twitter.

Bishop says that August doesn’t really understand all the attention right now, but “over time when she gets older, she’ll understand that Ms. Bishop really … cared about me for me,” the teacher says.

“It’s beyond a picture. It’s beyond hair. It’s more of me wanting her to love herself first, so that everything else she does will be what it needs to be,” she says.  I just wanted her to know that I see her,” Bishop says of August.

“It’s a connection on a teacher to student level. There are teachers who care about their students. They push them to be better students and make them feel loved and beautiful.”

Education Department says transgender student complaints about bathrooms will be rejected

The Education Department said it will not investigate complaints from transgender students who have been denied access to bathrooms that correspond with their gender. BuzzFeed News broke the story on Monday.

The department responded to BuzzFeed’s question about whether the department’s current position is that bathroom complaints from trans students are not included in Title IX. Title IX is a 1972 civil rights law that says students should not be excluded from participation in, denied benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination in education programs receiving federal assistance.

Liz Hill, a spokesperson for the department responded, “yes, that’s what the law says” and maintains that Title IX “prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity.”

Transgender students, their families, and advocates for the rights of transgender students have been waiting on further clarity from the department since HuffPost reported last month that the department has specifically said they don’t have to handle three cases about transgender students’ experiences with school bathrooms or sports teams. The department also said complaints involving transgender students do not fall under its jurisdiction. Last week, parents of more than 700 students across the country wrote a letter to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos condemning the department’s policy approach toward transgender students, which so far, has been to ignore them.

“People who espouse hateful and transphobic views continue to hold positions of power in schools across the country, and are enabled now more than ever before by the poor example set by the federal government with regard to acceptance and support for all youth,” the parents wrote.

A year ago, the department rescinded 2016 guidance from the Obama administration on transgender students’ access to bathrooms. The administration’s draft letter to schools stated that “School administrators, parents and students have expressed varying views on the legal issues arising in this setting” and “struggled to understand” the 2016 guidance.

The Obama-era guidance said schools should respond promptly to harassment claims when it involved a trans student’s gender and that transgender students should be able to access bathrooms and locker rooms and belong to sports teams that match their gender identity. It also made clear that schools should be aware of a student’s gender and can’t ask students for a medical diagnosis or treatment before they act accordingly. But nearly half the states joined two lawsuits challenging protections for transgender students.

Catherine Lhamon, former head of the department’s Office for Civil Rights during the Obama administration, tweeted on Monday that the federal government is “further turning its back” on transgender students.

Lhamon told BuzzFeed News that the department’s response is inconsistent with the courts’ interpretation of Title IX. In May, a federal court ruled that the anti-discrimination law covered trans Americans. In the case of Whitaker v. Kenosha Unified School District, the federal appeals court ruled that a trans boy could use the boys’ bathroom under Title IX protections.

Harper Jean Tobin, policy director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, released a statement to ThinkProgress over email accusing the department of “ignoring the law —including rulings from two federal appeals courts—in favor of promoting discrimination against children.”

Tobin added:

Trans students have stated that they avoid using the restroom all day, or avoid eating and drinking so that they will not have to. The Department appears to be saying it will turn its backs on these students even though courts have specifically said they are protected, forcing them to take the longer and far more costly route of suing in federal court. The Department also leaves students without any reason to have faith that it will help if they are outed and humiliated by school staff misgendering them every day, [or] suspended for following the dress code in a way that matches their gender identity.


This Student Failed Her Assignment Because Her Professor Said "Australia Isn't A Country"

Just read the emails between these two.

This is Ashley Arnold, a 27-year-old resident of Idaho Falls, Idaho. She’s a stay-at-home mom completing an online sociology degree with Southern New Hampshire University.

This is Ashley Arnold, a 27-year-old resident of Idaho Falls, Idaho. She's a stay-at-home mom completing an online sociology degree with Southern New Hampshire University.

Ashley Arnold

As part of her final class, for which she paid almost $1,000, students were required to complete a project outline last month in which they would compare a social norm in the US and another country.

Instagram: @snhu

For her “norm” Arnold picked social media use, and for her country she chose Australia.

For her "norm" Arnold picked social media use, and for her country she chose Australia.

Narvikk / Getty Images

But when Arnold got her grade back on Feb. 1, she was shocked to see her professor had failed her. Why? Because, according to the teacher, “Australia is a continent; not a country.”

But when Arnold got her grade back on Feb. 1, she was shocked to see her professor had failed her. Why? Because, according to the teacher, "Australia is a continent; not a country."

Narvikk / Getty Images/BuzzFeed News

“At first I thought it was a joke; This can’t be real. Then as I continued to read I realized she was for real,” she told BuzzFeed News.

“At first I thought it was a joke; This can’t be real. Then as I continued to read I realized she was for real," she told BuzzFeed News.

Christopher Chan / Getty Images

The professor, who has a PhD in philosophy, according to her LinkedIn, had given Arnold zero points in multiple sections of the assignment because she believed that Australia wasn’t a real country.

The professor, who has a PhD in philosophy, according to her LinkedIn, had given Arnold zero points in multiple sections of the assignment because she believed that Australia wasn't a real country.

Ashley Arnold

“With her education levels, her expertise, who wouldn’t know Australia is a country?” asked Arnold. “If she’s hesitating or questioning that, why wouldn’t she just google that herself?”

“With her education levels, her expertise, who wouldn’t know Australia is a country?" asked Arnold. "If she’s hesitating or questioning that, why wouldn’t she just google that herself?”

(Arnold asked BuzzFeed News not to name the professor because she didn't want any backlash).

Andrew Watson / Getty Images

I believe I got zero or partial credit because the instructor said, 'Australia is a continent; not a country. However, I believe that Australia is a country. The research starter on the SNHU’s Shapiro library written by John Pearson (2013) states, that Australia is the 'sixth-largest country in the world' (n.p.). The full name of the country is the Commonwealth of Australia, meaning Australia is both a continent and a country. Therefore, these sections of the rubric should be amended.

I will gladly re-examine your week 2 milestone project report.

But before I do I want you to understand that any error in a project can invalidate the entire research project.

Research is like dominoes, if you accidentally knock over one piece the entire set will also fall.

Australia is a continent; it is not a country. That error made it nearly impossible for you to accurately complete your week 2 research outline correctly.

As I mentioned above I will look over your week two paper once again and see if you earned more credits than I gave you.

Australia is both a country and a continent. It’s the only country that is both. I provided a resource in the first email that clarifies that for you. If you need further clarification google or the SNHU Shapiro Library has that information you.

Again I mean no disrespect but my grade is affected by your assumption that Australia is not a country when it in fact is.

Thank you and let me know if I need to provide further resources proving Australia is a country.

Thank you for this web-address

After I do some independent research on the continent/country issue I will review your paper.

Let’s stop for a second and just state for the record that Australia is a country. Here’s the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

Let's stop for a second and just state for the record that Australia is a country. Here's the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

He's even drinking a beer! That's pretty Australian.

Mark Nolan / Getty Images

Here are some members of the Australian women’s soccer team, the Matildas.

Here are some members of the Australian women's soccer team, the Matildas.

Otto Greule Jr / Getty Images

And here’s Australia’s foreign minister, Julie Bishop, speaking at the United Nations, a pretty exclusive international club that you have to be a 100% real country to join.

And here's Australia's foreign minister, Julie Bishop, speaking at the United Nations, a pretty exclusive international club that you have to be a 100% real country to join.

Kena Betancur / AFP / Getty Images

Anyway, Arnold said she was determined to have the professor realize her mistake, so she filed a report with the university. “I’m not going to fail because I chose a country that is a country,” she said.

Anyway, Arnold said she was determined to have the professor realize her mistake, so she filed a report with the university. "I’m not going to fail because I chose a country that is a country," she said.

She said she approached BuzzFeed News with her story because she was worried other students might have been incorrectly graded by the professor.

Ashley Arnold

The professor never apologized for the error, but did acknowledge she had a “misunderstanding about the difference between Australia as a country and a continent.”

Still, the professor had another warning for Arnold as she prepares to write her final assignment: “Please make sure the date, the facts, and the information you provide in your report is about Australia the country and not Australia the continent.”

🤔🤔🤔

Contacted by BuzzFeed News, a spokesperson for Southern New Hampshire University said they were looking into the matter.

“At SNHU, we hold our professors to a high standard of excellence and strive to provide high-quality degree programs for all students,” the spokesperson said. “On this question, the student is right. We take this concern seriously and our academic team is working to resolve the matter.”

Instagram: @snhu

“When did Australia become a country? Maybe she thinks it’s still part of England,” she said.

After being told by BuzzFeed News that happened some 117 years ago, Arnold said, “Oh, she’s not that old, so there’s no excuse.”

Disclaimer: The author of this post is from the very real country that is Australia.

Student Says She Had to Flush Hamster Down Toilet After Bad Information From Spirit Airlines

A college student who was assured she could fly home with her emotional support animal, a tiny dwarf hamster, says when she got to the airport she was told otherwise and an airline employee suggested she set it free outside or flush it down the toilet.

Distraught, but with no good options left, Belen Aldecosea, 21, says she had to make the harrowing choice to flush her beloved hamster, Pebbles, down the toilet in an airport bathroom.

“It was horrible,” Aldecosea tells PEOPLE. “I sat in a stall for about 15 minutes and just cried and cried.”

Pebbles, a hamster breed that’s about the size of a Twinkie — no more than four inches long and weighing less than two ounces — was about two months old, says Aldecosea, who got the pet to deal with stress and anxiety and had the hamster certified by a doctor as an emotional support animal.

Spirit Airlines confirms that one of its reservation representatives did mistakenly inform the woman when she called beforehand that her hamster could accompany her on the November flight out of Baltimore-Washington International airport.

The company, however, says it booked Aldecosea on a later flight so she would have time to make accommodations for the rodent and denies her assertion that a Spirit employee advised her on how to get rid of her pet.

“We can say confidently that at no point did any of our agents suggest this guest (or any other for that matter) should flush or otherwise injure an animal,” Spirit spokesman Derek Dombrowski tells PEOPLE. “It is incredibly disheartening to hear this guest reportedly decided to end her own pet’s life.”

Like other airlines, Spirit does allow some emotional support and service animals. However, Spirit excludes rodents, snakes, other reptiles, ferrets, and spiders.

Aldecosea is now considering a lawsuit against the airline.

“We’re going to explore all legal avenues,” her attorney, Adam Goodman, tells PEOPLE. “This wasn’t a dangerous animal. She had to take a very unfortunate action. It’s very sad.”

Aldecosea said she got Pebbles, who was so tiny she fit in the palm of her hand, in October while at the time a student at Wilson College in Pennsylvania. She was suffering from loneliness and anxiety, made worse after doctors discovered a mass the size of a golf ball near her throat, she says.

“Freaking out” when the doctor said she needed a biopsy to confirm if it was cancerous, she says the mass would tingle, get swollen, hard and painful. Aldecosea says she later learned it was benign but would require surgery to remove.

Pebbles comforted her, the owner says, and would happily roll around in a plastic exercise ball and run over to the side of the cage to greet her.

“She knew that I needed somebody, and she was there for me.”

RELATED: What Is the Difference Between Emotional Support Animals and Service Animals?

She decided to leave school for further treatment and on Nov. 21 was flying home to Miami Beach. But at the airport, Spirit workers told her that in fact, hamsters were not permitted on board. Aldecosea tried to rent a car, take a Greyhound bus and arrange transportation with a cargo shipping company but none of those options worked out, she says.

“What about letting her go? What about flushing her?” a Spirit employee suggested, Aldecosea alledges.

After agonizing for hours, “I did what I had to do,” she says. “The fastest I could do it was put her in and not look,” an extremely distressing situation.

Aldecosea believes she made the more humane choice. “It was either I let her out into the street to get squished and bloody before my eyes, or she gets eaten by some animal.”

The airline offered her a voucher for round trip to selected locations but she did not accept, she says.

Aldecosea, who has now transferred to Texas State University, recently got another dwarf hamster she named Mia, “but she’s not the same.”

She wants people who doubt the importance of support animals to understand their necessity.

“I’d rather have an emotional support animal than take pills for stress,” she says. “You don’t get to tell me what I feel for the animal.”