Transgender Law Center and trans youth leaders condemn administration’s action and commit to protecting youth
Today, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos will reportedly issue a joint “Dear Colleague” letter to schools across the country rescinding guidance issued by the Obama administration to help schools understand their responsibility to protect transgender students under Title IX.
Transgender Law Center executive director Kris Hayashi issued the following statement:
“Once again, this administration has singled out a vulnerable group – this time, transgender youth – for attack and made clear they will not fulfill their duty to protect all students from illegal harassment and discrimination. Fortunately, the White House does not have the power to singlehandedly change federal law, and school districts across the country are still legally obligated to comply with Title IX and protect transgender students.
It is shameful and cruel that politicians and government officials would use their power to target young people who are just trying to go to school and be themselves. No matter what this administration says, the law remains on transgender students’ side and students can still take legal action when schools cross the line and discriminate against them because they are transgender.
That’s exactly what our client Ash Whitaker, a transgender boy from Wisconsin, did when his school forced him to use a separate bathroom from his peers. In September, Ash won a preliminary injunction stopping his school from singling him out for discriminatory treatment. The court found that Ash was being irreparably harmed by the discriminatory policy—including the dizziness and migraines he experienced from trying to ‘hold it’ all day—and had a likelihood of winning on his legal claims that the policy violated both Title IX and the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.
Ash’s case will be heard in the Seventh Circuit at the end of March, just a day after the Supreme Court of the United States hears arguments in the case of another transgender boy, Gavin Grimm, who challenged the illegal discrimination he faced at school. It will be devastating to young people like Ash to know that the federal government will not protect or support them, but they should know that Transgender Law Center and our colleagues are here to fight for them, whatever it takes.
Transgender Law Center has long worked to ensure all students can be themselves, get an education, survive, and thrive – both through our legal cases and through TRUTH, our youth leadership development program with GSA Network. Today’s news has only bolstered Transgender Law Center’s commitment to protecting and defending the rights and lives of transgender young people, and we are prepared to take the administration to court to do so.”
Hundreds of transgender youth and their families have spoken out in support of the guidance since it was issued last year. Transgender Law Center and GSA Network have a joint program, TRUTH, dedicated to elevating the voices and leadership of transgender youth.
“Transgender youth are beautiful, powerful, and we will continue to support each other even when our schools and our government don’t have our backs,” said Violet Martinez, a leader from the national youth council of Transgender Law Center and GSA Network’s TRUTH program. “Through programs like TRUTH, transgender youth will always be here for each other, speaking our truth and sharing our stories no matter who tries to shame or silence us.”
Transgender Law Center will hold a virtual Town Hall on Transgender Student Rights for community at 2pm PT/5pm ET tomorrow, February 23rd. Any students whose schools change their policies or start treating them differently following this action should contact Transgender Law Center through our helpline form: https://transgenderlawcenter.org/legalinfo.
More information about the Ash Whitaker case can be found online here: https://transgenderlawcenter.org/legal/youth/whitaker. More information about TRUTH is available here: https://transgenderlawcenter.org/programs/truth.
Transgender Law Center is the largest national organization dedicated to advancing the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming people through litigation, policy advocacy, and public education. TLC changes law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression. www.transgenderlawcenter.org