On February 10, the Trump administration rescinded the government’s objections to a 2016 injunction that blocked implementation of the Obama administration’s transgender inclusion guidance for public schools. The guidance, released in May 2016 by the Department of Education and the Department of Justice, aimed to ensure public schools be inclusive and welcoming of transgender and gender non-conforming students. This change in policy by the Trump administration does not change the situation for transgender students in public schools, as a federal judge had already placed a hold on the previous administration’s guidance back in August. It does, however, indicate a shift in how the administration will approach trans equality and LGBTQ equality more broadly.
How the new administration addresses the issue of transgender students and bathroom use will have an impact on several cases currently moving through the court system, including Gloucester County School Board v. G.G., which is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court on March 28, 2017. Gavin Grimm, a transgender male student at Gloucester High School in Virginia, was denied access to the men’s bathroom. The ACLU filed suit on Grimm’s behalf for his right to access the bathroom that aligns with his gender identity.
Our tradition teaches us to seek justice for all of God’s children. We stand by the belief that each of us was created in the Divine image, and that we are all responsible for achieving the high moral purpose of tikkun olam, the repair of our world.
In response to the announcement of the guidance on trans inclusion in public schools, the URJ, CCAR and WRJ joined with numerous other faith groups in support of this measure. The letter describes the importance of this guidance, “Students deserve an educational experience that is inclusive and embracing. Unfortunately, in far too many communities, transgender and gender nonconforming individuals are significantly more likely to experience discrimination, harassment and even physical violence. This may occur in the context of access to, for example, restrooms, educational programs and activities consistent with their gender identity. This is sadly even more true in the wake of the passage of harmful and discriminatory legislation in certain states, especially those that perpetuate false narratives about bathroom safety.”
We will continue to advocate strongly for full equality for all transgender and gender non-conforming people, just as we will advocate for full equality for the entire LGBTQ community. One way to take action is to urge your Members of Congress to support the Equality Act when it is reintroduced in the 115th Congress.
Currently, federal law does not explicitly prohibit discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, federal funding, education, credit, and jury selection based on sexual orientation and gender identity. The Equality Act would amend existing civil rights laws to protect LGBTQ people from discrimination. Take action today!