The controversy around binary gendered bathrooms has been well debated in the past few years, yet it seems that even after Obama’s directive in 2016 it continues to be a source of argument.
In May of the year, the Obama administration sent a letter to schools from the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education. The letter highlighted the important aspects of Title-IX and said, “A school may provide separate facilities on the basis of sex, but must allow transgender students access to such facilities consistent with their gender identity.” This directive applied to both bathroom and locker rooms.
This was a step forward for the transgender community because of the confusion that was caused by binary gendered bathrooms. It also paved the way for the massive retailer, Target, to announce a similar policy which encouraged people to use whatever bathroom they felt comfortable with.
Although Target received major backlash for their new policy, Target CEO Brian Cornell told Fortune magazine that they, “have not seen a material or measurable impact on business.”
Last Wednesday, a letter was released under Trump’s administration which referenced the directive letter from May 2016 and said, “the Department of Education and the Department of Justice have decided to withdraw and rescind the above-referenced guidance documents in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved.”
The letter released by under Trump’s administration does not allow transgender people to choose a bathroom based on their gender identity. The letter also stated that, “this withdrawal of these guidance documents does not leave students without protections from discrimination, bullying or harassment. All schools must ensure that all students, including LGBTQ students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment.”
With the claims of LGBTQ protection, the 2017 directive letter does not account for the potential harm of transgender students who now may be fearful of attending school or using the restroom.
In a survey published by the National LGBTQ Task Force, 63 percent of adult participants claimed they experienced bullying in school from teachers and students along with severe harassment.
The National Center for Biotechnology Informationexplains “increasing societal acceptance of the transgender community and decreasing gender-based prejudice may help prevent suicide in this highly stigmatized population.” The removal of the Obama administration’s ruling is a step backwards and directly contradicts any promises Trump made to the LGBTQ community.
Gavin Grimm, a 17-year-old transgender man, has filed a federal civil rights lawsuit which will be taken to the Supreme Court in March. Grimm told the Huffington Post that, “As a transgender student and thinking about transgender students everywhere, hearing that your presidential administration has gone out of its way just to further discriminate against you ... it’s very upsetting and disappointing news.”
Many people in the LGBTQ have pushed back against the directive letter, taking to social media and the streets to support Grimm and voice their concern. Anyone who is able to is encouraged to donate money to organizations such as the Transgender Law Center.
The National LGBTQ Task Force explains that “consequences of these widespread injustices are human and real, ranging from unemployment and homelessness to illness and death.”
It’s vital that the U.S. government provides a safe and nurturing environment for the youth of America. Under the Trump administration’s new directive the well being of transgender children is at stake.