Tag: transgender student rights

What Matters

“The Trump administration on Wednesday formally withdrew Obama administration guidance enabling transgender individuals to use sex-segregated facilities, including bathrooms, of their choice.”

                                                                                   -The Washington Post

If you haven’t heard the news, you can read it here- Trump Administration Rescinds Obama Rules on Transgender Bathroom Use .

This news is upsetting and disheartening. But there are a few important things you should know- National Center for Transgender Equality has created FAQ on the Withdrawal of Federal Guidance on Transgender Students

I’ve shared an important excerpt from the FAQ sheet below.

What happens now that the Title IX guidance is rolled back?

First, it’s important to remember that—with or without the guidance—transgender students are protected under Title IX. The guidance itself didn’t change the law or create protections for transgender students that weren’t there before. It just clarified how the Department of Education would be enforcing existing laws. Even though the guidance has been withdrawn, that doesn’t change the fact that under Title IX, transgender students have a right to be treated according to their gender identity, including when it comes to restroom access. And in addition to protections under Title IX, transgender students are also protected by the U.S. Constitution and, in many states, by state laws and policies protecting them in schools.

– National Center for Transgender Equality- FAQ on the Withdrawal of Federal Guidance on Transgender Students

This matters. For transgender students who attend a supportive school, this probably won’t change their school experience. For those who have been fighting to have their basic rights met, this could be a damaging blow to their battle. For all transgender children and their parents the message that Trump’s administration is sending is powerful and harmful.

It might not be telling schools to discriminate against transgender students but it is attempting to strip those students of their rights, which actually are still protected. Unfortunately there are school districts who were just waiting for this message as a green light. This message tells transgender students that they do not matter and that they do not have the same rights as anyone else, nor do they deserve them. I want you to just think for a moment what that might feel like as a child who already might feel like they don’t quite fit.  

A message from the president of their country. Yesterday I was having a discussion with my 2nd grade reading group about the power of an emperor, and in their 7 year old minds they likened it to the president.

And this is what matters most. Transgender students will hear this message and even if they have support at school, some will still be very frightened and not safe.

We are talking about kids who might be facing daily battles just getting through a school day. Even students who can navigate their school day might be feeling unsafe out in the world. If the negative message that  the Trump administration is sending gets into a child’s head and they feel that threatened, the outcome could be dire. We are talking about a fragile, defenseless population here.

Parents of transgender kids are afraid for their children. Fear and worry are a standard part of the “parenting trans kids” package. We worry about their emotional well being, physical safety, bullies both in school and out, possible future health issues due to any treatment they receive, that they have friends, if they will find love, what their future will be, what they aren’t telling us (and there is always something they aren’t telling us),  their happiness, their life…….

We worry and we fight. Some fight LOUD and OUT and PROUD. Some are quieter but just as persistent and effective. And some are floundering, just keeping their heads above water, grateful for the parents before them who are trailblazers, sometimes battling with a sword in one hand and holding onto their child, or a few fragile families or both all at the same time.

There are parents of minor transgender children who fear being reported for child abuse by “well meaning” family, friends or neighbors.  And yes, it does happen! Divorced parents worry about losing custody of their trans child to an unsupportive parent, which could be detrimental to that child. They are afraid to advocate out of fear of retribution.

And those front line folks- they stand being attacked by hurtful or ignorant (or both) people. The very public advocates risk hate mail/messages and death threats. For fighting for what is right. I wish I was exaggerating but sadly, I’m not.

We are talking about human rights. This is what matters! It’s important that people show their support. I’m inviting you to join me in spreading a message of love and support to transgender people and their families everywhere. Make sure your schools are trans-inclusive. Educate the ignorant. Keep informed. Understand what Title IX is and how it protects transgender students. Do any of these….or all of them!

Feel free to use the picture below- it is mine to share. If you are a # person, please consider using #StandWithGavin as well as the ones below. If you are unfamiliar with Gavin,  he is a transgender student whose case will be heard by the Supreme Court next month when he fights for the right to use the school bathroom that corresponds with his gender identity.

translivesmatter

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Student A is ALL of Our Kids!

My previous post, Township High School District 211- Bad Form shares the highlights of this ongoing issue. I tried to keep my own personal opinion and feelings out of it, but I wanted to share my thoughts* here.

The bottom line is that this district acknowledges this student as being female in their records and in some of their actions. She has had unrestricted access to female restrooms and is able to participate in girls’ sports. She was not allowed access to the girls’ locker room and that’s where the violation to Title IX comes into play.

The district’s school board voted to accept a settlement but when the Office of Civil Rights for the US Department of Education issued a press release outlining the details, the district claimed they were inaccurate and demanded a retraction. Since the links included both on the district’s website and the OCR’s press release lead to the same agreement, it appears that someone didn’t read the fine print.

The district insists that this agreement only applies to that one student and that she is being required to use a curtained off area to change- not that she has the option.

The district was found to be violating this student’s Title IX rights. If this settlement only applies to this student, then the next one to come along, if treated any differently than what the settlement stipulates, automatically puts the district back in violation AGAIN. If we give the district the benefit of the doubt….. and we say, that isn’t the case….that the district will treat ALL students the same way and any other transgender student will be afforded the same use of restrooms and locker rooms, then WHY doesn’t this settlement apply to ALL students? 

Something is off. Something feels very wrong about this. It stinks of the district running scared in the face of a community responding negatively at the outcome.

I’ve read the comments following the articles tangled with more than one person, only to walk away from the conversation in frustration. I’m sure the district is hearing threats of lawsuits and protests from scared parents who don’t understand. And in all of my years dealing with administrators, I can tell you one thing- they don’t like the idea of angry parents storming the district…..and after having faced a month of the mob mentality, I’m sure they really don’t want this to continue.

It was the district’s responsibility to educate their community on a topic that many are ignorant and it looks like they failed. This was an opportunity to educate people, help grow understanding, teach compassion and acceptance….the list is endless. Instead they chose to go on the defensive and make it clear that they are accommodating this one student because they will loser federal funding if they don’t.

BAD FORM.

On a completely different note, I am in awe of this community and I’m PROUD to be a part of it. Since the settlement was handed down, members of a Facebook group (Illinois Parents of Transgender & Gender Diverse Children) connected with the parent of the transgender girl. When informed of the district’s actions, this group, with leadership and guidance from the parent, sprung into action. A call for help is spreading across the internet, signs are being made, talking points are being shared, and people are supporting by showing up/ speaking at tomorrow’s board meeting or writing the district directly, sharing their feelings.

 

I’m not doing this for only one kid- I’m doing it for all of our kids. They all deserve to have the same school experience as everyone else. I will be there showing my support. I hope that you will be, too!

*My own personal take on what is happening is drawn from years of a variety of education experience and from being the parent of a transgender child, and how the uneducated public respond to anything transgender. 

Township High School District 211- Bad Form

Student A is a transgender girl. She is in high school in Township High School District 211 in Palatine, Illinois and she would like to have the same rights as any other female student in the district. If you are unfamiliar with this story, you can read a press release issued from the U.S. Department of Education here regarding the case and the district’s actions. The press release includes links to the list of the district’s violations as well as the settlement agreement.

Settlement Reached with Palatine, Ill., Township High School District 211 to Remedy Transgender Discrimination

The short of it is this-

The largest high school district in Illinois, was found to be in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

OCR finds by a preponderance of the evidence that the District is in violation of Title IX for excluding Student A from participation in and denying her the benefits of its education program, providing services to her in a different manner, subjecting her to different rules of behavior, and subjecting her to different treatment on the basis of sex.

After agreeing to a settlement on December 3rd, the school district is threatening to rescind the decision at an emergency board meeting scheduled for tomorrow, December 7th. You can read the superintendent’s statement here. Superintendent Cates interprets the settlement in a different manor than the Office for Civil Rights of the US Department of Education.

If you are in Illinois or if you can help, the following message is being sent out by the Illinois Safe Schools Alliance, Facebook groups, PFLAG groups-

district 211