“The Bathroom Debate”

March 7, 2017

On Wednesday, February 22nd, President Trump repealed an Obama administration order to all public schools. The repeal will affect the 15,000 transgender students in the United states but, will also affect those around them.

The old order put in place by Obama stated that, in order to act in accordance with federal law, all school policies must be based on gender identity and not biological sex. The new order directed schools to prove student’s’ gender identity before allowing them access to the opposite sex’s bathrooms and locker rooms, along with other changes. The change was made in order to protect the safety and privacy of the public. While some believe that the order was uncalled for, others believe that it was necessary to keep incidents from occurring.

There are multiple sides to this issue. Students have said anything from “Transgender Americans should be allowed to use restrooms where they feel the most comfortable because they’re just being themselves and they have to use the bathroom it’s ok.” to “No, I believe too many people would use that just to get away as a sexual predator.”

In order, to keep people from using the inappropriate bathroom or locker room the gender of the person must be proved. How is it to be proved, though? “By simple word of mouth? ”

On the topic, a student said, “ You can lie about your identity just to go into the opposite gender bathroom.”

The two-page letter to public schools causing this controversy said the Obama-era directive did not provide “extensive legal analysis” of how its position was consistent with Title IX. Title IX  protects people from discrimination based on gender in education programs. But, if Title IX protections extend to someone’s gender identity depends on who you ask. 

When asked if it’s discrimination when transgender individuals are forced to go into a bathroom they are uncomfortable with a Thomas Worthington Student answered, “Yes it’s just like separating African-Americans and Caucasians into different bathrooms.” However, a different student said simply said, “No, your sex along with race is biological.”

The question that many seem to ask is “Is this a civil rights issue?” In the two-page letter, a provision Education Secretary Betsy DeVos asked for stated,“All schools must ensure that students, including L.G.B.T. students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment”. Then directed the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights to investigate all claims of such treatment “against those who are most vulnerable in our schools,”.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign said, “This isn’t a states’ rights issue; it’s a civil rights issue.”

It may or may not be a civil rights issue but, is it best left up to the states to debate? The White House made a statement saying President Trump believes the policy regarding transgender bathrooms should be decided at the state level,” Students agree and support it by saying things such as,”Every state has its own ideas because they know the people of that state better.”

Others strongly believe it shouldn’t be left up to the federal government.“The federal government has absolutely no right to strip parents and local schools of their rights to provide a safe learning environment for children,” Tony Perkins the President of the Family Research Council.

Although the repeal does not undo Title IX or state-level protections for transgender students, it is causing many protests. In one protest several hundred people outside the White House, chanting, “No hate, no fear, trans students are welcome here.” But, in another Caitlyn Jenner, perhaps one of the most famous transgender Americans, posted a twitter video in which she told Trump “From one Republican to another, this is a disaster. You made a promise to protect the LGBTQ community. Call me. You can still fix it.”

Overall, the new order is having a big impact right now. It’s affecting everyone from Gavin Grim and his court case to the individuals who just want to go to the bathroom that they feel comfortable.

“People go, they use the bathroom that they feel is appropriate. There has been so little trouble,” Trump said last April.

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