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Trump paves way for discrimination in schools

Written by Andrew Fox

In a negligent act, Trump has revoked an Obama era directive for fair treatment of transgender students in federally funded schools.

Rather than implement new guidelines, Trump has handed the issue of transgender rights over to the states, in affect establishing majority power over minority protections. He has downplayed the urgency needed to protect transgender youth, a group afflicted with the highest rate of attempted suicide in America.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos explains in an open letter to public schools, “This is an issue best solved at the state and local level. Schools, communities, and families can find – and in many cases have found – solutions that protect all students.”

However, this is what Obama’s guidelines explicitly offered, solutions that states have found to be successful in treatment of transgender students.

Describing a letter included in its directive, the U.S. Department of Justice wrote, “The examples in that document are taken from policies that school districts, state education agencies, and high school athletics associations around the country have adopted to help ensure that transgender students enjoy a supportive and nondiscriminatory school environment.”

For some, this was too much to ask. Thirteen states filed lawsuits (Alabama, Arizona, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wisconsin) fearing loss of federal funds.

Trump’s decision to nullify the Obama administration’s thoughtful and informed guidelines has done nothing but secure funding to schools unwilling to protect their transgender students.

Those opposed to transgender bathroom rights usually argue for the well-being of the non-transgender students, calling it an invasion of their privacy, and claiming it presents an opportunity to sexual predators. It’s no surprise the majority place their comfort above those in the minority, but if they’re concerned about student safety, they may want to redirect their concerns.

The National Transgender Discrimination Survey, conducted by the Williams Institute of UCLA, found suicide attempts among trans women at 42 percent, and 46 percent among trans men. The two culminate in an average suicide attempt rate of 41 percent, nearly 10 times higher than the national average of 4.6 percent.

The survey also found around 50-59 percent of transgender students (at any grade level) were harassed or bullied at school, and 63-73 percent suffered physical or sexual violence. After entering the workforce, the study found 50-59 percent of trans men and women were discriminated against or harassed at work.

If you’re truly concerned about the well-being of American students, be concerned with our transgender youth. Ignore the perceived invasion of privacy and show that one transgender student some compassion.

We must set aside the worries, the “what if’s”, and our fear of something different, to welcome those with many hurdles ahead of them. Then maybe America will become a better place for everyone.

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