Message to Trans Youth: "We Stand Ready to Protect You, Even if Washington Won't"

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Message to Trans Youth: "We Stand Ready to Protect You, Even if Washington Won't"

After Trump administration pulls Title IX order, legal organizations warn school districts to protect trans students from discrimination or "we'll see them in court"

Vowing to defend transgender youth after the Trump administration rescinded protective guidelines, hundreds rallied outside the White House on Wednesday evening. (Photo: The National Center for Transgender Equality/ Twitter)

Vowing to defend transgender youth after the Trump administration rescinded protective guidelines, hundreds rallied outside the White House on Wednesday evening. (Photo: The National Center for Transgender Equality/ Twitter)

"You belong."

"Nothing is wrong with you."

"We have your back."

After the Trump administration on Wednesday revoked Title IX protections for transgender students, allies and legal organizations are vowing to protect the rights of students and transgender youth who are now increasingly vulnerable to bullying and discrimination.

An estimated 200 people rallied outside the White House Wednesday evening after it was announced that the Obama-era joint guidance directing the Departments of Education (DOE) and Justice (DOJ) to "treat a student's gender identity as the student's sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX" had been rescinded.

Addressing the crowd, Gavin Grimm, a transgender teen whose lawsuit against the Gloucester County, Virginia school board will be heard by the Supreme Court in March, said: "I've faced my share of adversaries in rural Virginia, but I never imagined that my government would be one of them."

Wednesday's letter, signed by Sandra Battle, acting assistance secretary for Civil Rights with DOE, and T.E. Wheeler, acting assistant attorney general for Civil Rights with the DOJ, leaves schools without clear guidelines to ensure equal opportunity and protection for hundreds and thousands of transgender youth.

"With a pen stroke, the Trump administration effectively sanctions the bullying, ostracizing, and isolation of these children, putting their very lives in danger."
—Mara Keisling, National Center for Transgender Equality

But equal rights and legal organizations are reminding school districts that, despite the move, trans students are still protected against discrimination under law.

"Bottom line," said American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) LGBT project director James Esseks, "this does not undo legal protections for trans students, and school districts can and must continue to protect them and all students from discrimination. School districts that recognize that should continue doing the right thing; for the rest, we'll see them in court."

"We will continue to fight for the rights and dignity of transgender youth," Esseks added, "especially now that the Trump administration has decided to turn its back on them."

In a series of tweets, Lambda Legal issued a similar warning to schools while vowing to protect those who face discrimination:

Top Democratic lawmakers also condemned the move as did numerous state Attorneys General who promised to uphold local laws that extend "explicit civil rights protections" for transgender people.

In a phone interview with Huffington Post, Grimm said how it felt to have President Donald Trump revoke the guidance after claiming to support LGBTQ rights.

"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," Grimm said.

Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, who also spoke at Wednesday's rally, declared the move "a mean-spirited attack on hundreds of thousands of students who simply want to be their true selves and be treated with dignity while attending school.

Keisling continued:

It seems almost every day the president chooses a new group to scapegoat and attack. Transgender students thrive when treated equally, but too often they are not. These young people already face incredible hurdles in their pursuit of education and acceptance. With a pen stroke, the Trump administration effectively sanctions the bullying, ostracizing, and isolation of these children, putting their very lives in danger.

This Administration's action sends a harmful message to transgender young people—that their government does not support them, and that it is fine to single out those who are different. That message is sure to empower bullies. But it does not change the legal and moral duty of schools to support all students. That's why the nation's education leaders and more and more schools in every part of the country are supporting transgender students, and that won't change.

Transgender students are not going away. We call on every principal, teacher, school counselor and nurse, and every parent, family member and student across the country to stand by them.

Taking up that call, countless allies have pledged to #ProtectTransStudents, issuing statements of solidarity and comfort in the face of the government assault.

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