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.

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 bill would prohibit South Dakota teachers from acknowledging transgender kids exist

For the second year in a row, South Dakota could be the first state legislature to push through an anti-LGBTQ bill in 2018, and it’s a brand new kind of attack. The proposed bill would censor schools from discussing transgender issues until students are in eighth grade.

S.B. 160 is short. It adds the following to the state education code:

No instruction in gender identity or gender expression may be provided to any student in kindergarten through grade seven in any public school in the state.

The bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Phil Jensen (R), believes the issues aren’t age-appropriate and actually argues that they could get in the way of learning other skills. “I think we need to be focusing on reading, writing and arithmetic,” he said.

The bill is a new spin on a series of “no promo homo” laws that are on the books in seven other states. These laws vary from state to state in the way they either prohibit discussing homosexuality in schools or dictate teaching that homosexuality is harmful or even against the law — even though sodomy laws have been unenforceable since the Supreme Court overturned them in 2003. South Dakota’s bill would be the first to extend such censorship to gender identity issues.

As GLSEN points out, several states have taken steps in the opposite direction, ensuring that schools respect transgender students. For example, when the Massachusetts Department of Education issued guidance in 2013 for protecting trans students, it included the recommendation that schools “incorporate education and training about trans and gender non-conforming into anti-bullying curriculum, students leadership trainings, and staff professional development.” Studies have repeatedly found that schools with an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum have far lower rates of anti-LGBTQ bullying.

It thus stands to reason that under Jensen’s bill, a transgender student would receive no institutional support. Educating students about the trans student’s identity and why it’s inappropriate to bully them would be prohibited under law. The many books that help explain these issues to young children, like I Am Jazz and My Princess Boy, would be barred from classrooms.

And that’s not Jensen’s only anti-transgender bill this session. He’s also introduced S.B. 202, which would require posting warning signs on public restrooms “that a person of the opposite sex may be in the restroom the user is about to enter.”

Jensen has been called South Dakota’s “most conservative lawmaker.” He previously introduced a bill to allow businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ people, and he defended it by arguing that a Ku Klux Klan-run bakery should be allowed to turn away African-American customers.

South Dakota was the first state to pass an anti-LGBTQ law in 2017, one that ensured religiously affiliated adoption agencies could discriminate against same-sex couples without consequence. Jensen defended that bill by comparing LGBTQ people to pedophiles.

In 2016, South Dakota lawmakers advanced a bill that would have blocked schools from accommodating trans students’ gender identities, but Gov. Dennis Daugaard (R) ultimately vetoed the bill. A similar bill was introduced last year, but didn’t advance. Daugaard has likewise expressed concern with Jensen’s new bill, saying that he doesn’t “know that our standards of education are properly the subject of legislative enactments.”