On Wednesday night, United States president Donald Trump and his administration withdrew the protections installed by the Obama administration regarding the protections of transgender students. According to those, transgender students were allowed to use the bathrooms which corresponded with the gender they identified with. The protections received many critics at that moment. Many people were saying that the government should not get involved in those kinds of situations. Now, it seems like those people will have something to be happy about. Trump rescinded all of those protections.
The “bathroom debate”
However, some civil rights groups characterized this action as completely motivated by politics. Because they will no longer have those rules to protect them, transgender students will soon feel in danger and like they do not belong. This action will also make people very confused about the government’s role when it comes to such situations.
In May 2016, the departments of Education and Justice united and sent out a “Dear Colleague” letter. It was addressed to schools and colleges which are receiving funding from the government. In this letter, the two departments said that transgender students should be allowed to use the bathrooms or facilities corresponding to their gender identity. This way, they would feel safe and like they belong in there. Now, almost a year later, the Trump administration sent out another “Dear Colleague” letter in which it rescinded the protections. Moreover, the administration did not offer any alternative or replacement. So, the situation is left hanging.
The “bathroom debate”, as it is known, caused lots of controversies. It even sparked some quarrels inside the Trump administration. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos did not agree with Attorney General Jeff Sessions in what concerned the withdrawal of the protections. Sessions wanted to rescind those as soon as possible. He is a strong opponent of the extension of LGBT rights. However, DeVos did not agree and refused to sign off while stating that the reactions from those people could be very dangerous. Sessions then went to the White House and asked the president to make De Vos agree with the withdrawal. So, after a meeting in the Oval Office between Betsy De Vos and Donald Trump, she agreed to rescind the protections. She could have either resign or defy the president. She chose to step on her beliefs and go forward with the withdrawal.
Many supporters of the gay right immediately went in front of the White House and started protesting. This recent decision will not take effect immediately and individual school will still be free to choose if they want to allow transgender students use the bathroom they feel most comfortable in. This action is opposed to what president Trump stated many times. That he is a strong supporter of gay and transgender rights. Supporters of transgender rights are saying that the government should not have a say in this matter. It is outside of their attributions and the consequences of this decision are indeed going to be heartbreaking. We will see what is going to happen in the following weeks.
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