The Education Department confirmed on Monday that it will no longer be investigating complaints from transgender students who are banned from school bathrooms. This move comes as the latest of the Trump administration’s various moves to undermine LGBT rights and protections.
“Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity,” Education Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Hill said to The Washington Post. “Where students, including transgender students, are penalized or harassed for failing to conform to sex-based stereotypes, that is sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX. In the case of bathrooms, however, longstanding regulations provide that separating facilities on the basis of sex is not a form of discrimination prohibited by Title IX.”
The Obama administration in 2016 had directed public schools to allow students to use bathrooms that align with their gender identity, even if that conflicted with the gender on their birth certificates. The administration concluded that barring transgender students from public school bathrooms was a form of sex discrimination prohibited under Title IX.
Shortly after Trump’s inauguration, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded the guidance, arguing that Title IX did not obligate schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice.
DeVos also said states and individual school districts should be able to determine how to accommodate transgender students. a move that was widely decried by civil rights groups who said it could endanger the welfare of transgender students.
The move was heavily criticized by civil rights groups who said it could endanger the welfare of transgender students.
Previously, Attorney General Jeff Sessions had also withdrawn a policy protecting transgender workers, even going as far as to argue that anti-gay discrimination was permissible in employment under federal law.
Sessions had also argued religious business owners can refuse service to gay customers, even when anti-gay discrimination is banned by state law, and Trump has attempted to ban transgender people from all military service, according to Buzzfeed.
Catherine Lhamon, who headed the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights under President Barack Obama, called the department’s statement “appalling and deeply dangerous.”
“The federal courts have multiple times made clear that Title IX protects transgender students,” Lhamon said to The Washington Post. “They just don’t have the option to say, ‘We just don’t apply the law here.’”
Last year after ending the Obama-era protections, DeVos had written that the withdrawal of these guidance documents did not leave students without protections from discrimination, bullying or harassment.
However, advocates worry that the administration’s position will send a message to schools without clear policies that they should bar transgender students from bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity.
“The vast number of schools in our country are schools led by teachers and principals and administrators who want to do the best for children but this will just be confusing,” said Vanessa Ford, the mother of a transgender girl in the first grade who attends school in the Boston area to The Washington Post. “They hear this and think, ‘Wait, am I no longer allowed to support trans kids at our school?’ ”
Inside the Ivy: Hazing Allegations and Discrimination
Brown’s men’s swim team, a religious organization at Harvard, and Prince Charles’ appreciation of Cornell.
Brown’s men’s swim team barred from Championships #busted
The men’s swimming and diving team for Brown University will not be participating in the Ivy League Championship due to an investigation into hazing allegations against the team.
The Brown Daily Herald reports, “in addition, the team’s schedule no longer lists the National Collegiate Athletic Association Swimming and Diving Championships, which will take place in March. The women’s team schedule still lists these meets.”
The men’s team roster also removed the two senior captains that were previously listed.
Sexual assault and guns may be the hot issues of the moment, but homophobia is still a problem
Harvard University’s Office of Student Life has placed the religious group Harvard College Faith and Action (HCFA) on probation after the organization forced a female member of its student leadership to step down because she was dating a woman.
The Harvard Crimson reports, “the decision to suspend HCFA, though, is almost certainly tied to the Sept. 2017 resignation of a female bisexual former assistant Bible course leader. HCFA leadership asked the woman to step down from her position after they learned she was dating another female student—violating guidelines laid out in the Harvard College Student Handbook, which stipulates recognized campus student groups cannot discriminate on the basis of ‘sexual orientation.'”
Confirmation of this order of events came from 12 current and former members of HCFA as well as documents, emails and text messaged obtained and reviewed by the Crimson.
Quote of the Week:
“People are dying, and I think it’s about time somebody called BS.”
– Senior Maya Kassutto at a UPenn gun protest
Tweet of the Week:
I am a man of faith
I am a Husband
I am a Father
I am an Activist
I am a Business Owner
I am an Executive
I am a Producer
I am an Ivy League Graduate
I am a Philanthropist
I am more than an Athlete #wewillnotshutupanddribble https://t.co/Cmani7xINV
— Andrew Hawkins (@Hawk) February 18, 2018
UC San Diego Refuses to Cancel Course on Woody Allen Films
University of California, San Diego refused to cancel a course on Woody Allen films despite a petition with over 20,000 signatures.
The University of California, San Diego is refusing to cancel a course on “The Films of Woody Allen” despite a petition with more than 20,000 signatures.
The UC San Diego Academic Senate announced that they “conclude that canceling or removing this or any other course for the reason that it contains the study of controversial material, or even material widely regarded as morally problematic, would undermine both the value of free inquiry and the associated rights of faculty to engage in such inquiry by choosing their course content” in a press release.
The Senate also defined the subject of the press release as “Academic Freedom at UCSD”.
The petition, which currently has 21,895, was created by theater student Savanah Lyon, who said she “emailed all of the people in charge in an attempt to appeal to their sense of reason, humanity, and morality to stop this class and take it off the books so that no one can teach this class again.” Lyon’s emails have been met with dismissal, unprofessionalism, and dehumanizing rhetoric, according to the petition.
“They believe they have a right to teach this class due to academic freedom. They do not care about the statement it makes to survivors everywhere. They do not care that Woody Allen is on his way out of Hollywood,” Lyon also said in the petition.
“They do not care that the class is less than 1/3 full, making it an unpopular class that has no reason to be taught. They do not care that there are thousands of other directors who could teach the same film basics that they use Woody Allen to teach, directors who haven’t raped seven-year-old girls.”
Dylan Farrow, Woody Allen’s adoptive daughter with Mia Farrow, had accused him of molesting her when she was a seven year old. Allen is currently married to Mia Farrrow’s other adoptive daughter Soon-Yi Previn. He claims the affair with Previn started when she was 21 years old.
In a Facebook post Lyon said she tried as hard as she could but the odds were stacked up against her from the beginning.
I tried, I tried as hard as I could, and the people around me and across the globe tried as well. The odds were stacked…
“It’s hard to believe what would’ve been enough to get them to remove it from the books. Over 3,700 emails weren’t enough. Over 14,500 signatures weren’t enough. Various news clips and articles weren’t enough. The students weren’t enough, but the way the system works, I have a hard time believing we ever will,” she said.
“I don’t know if free speech and academic freedom will ever stop protecting oppressors. But, we can keep trying. Trying is radical and it will make them jump back every time. You get enough people pushing for change, it’ll start to happen. Don’t be discouraged by this.”
Seventh Grader Shoots Self in School
How many children have access to guns?
Middle School students at Jackson Memorial in Stark County, Ohio, were placed on lockdown early this morning after a seventh grader shot himself in a school bathroom.
According to WECT-6 Cleveland, there have been no reports on whether the shooting was intentional. The student was taken to a nearby hospital to be treated, and police have not stated what his condition is. No other students were reported injured.
Just before 8am Tuesday, the seventh grader shot himself in the men’s room. The students and faculty at Jackson Memorial Middle School were unaffected, and the administration has worked to safely dismiss everyone from campus.
Some surrounding elementary and high schools have also been evacuated, and there will be no classes today as a precautionary measure.
The school is located about 50 miles (80 kilometers) south of Cleveland.
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