Just four days after the JusticeDepartment decided to drop an injunction which would have kept an Obama-era transgender bathroom mandate in place, parents of transgender children sent a letter to Trump, pleading with him to keep protections for their children. The letter was organized by the Human Rights Campaign's Parents for Transgender Equality council and signed by nearly 800 families. The organization sent the letter via email on Tuesday night.
Going into the White House, the Trump administration made it seem like they would keep those protections — which included Obama's mandate allowing school kids to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity — along with others for the LGBTQ community. But new Attorney General Jeff Sessions appears to be turning that around. The letter, in part, plead with the administration and Sessions to ensure that all students received "equal access to a safe, welcoming school and a high quality education no matter who they are and where they live."
“Just 48 hours after the confirmation of his anti-equality attorney general, Donald Trump's administration directly attacked LGBTQ equality and took aim at the rights of transgender youth,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. He added, “This disgraceful action exposes transgender students to harassment and discrimination and emboldens bullies from classrooms to state legislatures. These 781 courageous parents are asking that the federal government protect their children at school, something that all families deserve."
It was a very swift response by the organization, and rightfully so. Sessions wasn't even in office for a full 48 hours before he decided that the Justice Department wouldn't block a Texas court's attempt to impede Obama's order, which was put in place last spring. Sessions' first move won't affect public schools right away, but it is very big sign that the new, conservative administration believes that the previous administration went too far in protecting transgender students' right to use a bathroom at school.
On the campaign trail, Trump himself promised that he would "better for the gays" than his Democratic opponent, but so far that doesn't really seem to be the case. Vice President Mike Pence on the other hand, has always been very clear about his feelings toward the LGBTQ community and Obama's directive concerning transgender bathroom use, although he tends to wrap up his prejudice in "small government" arguments.
“Washington has no business intruding on the operation of our local schools,” Pence said. Which could arguably mean that he believes local school districts should have the right to do what ever they want — even if it means barring a child from using a bathroom, or to extend the argument, segregate classrooms.
The move from the Justice Department will also likely affect other ongoing cases, like that of transgender teen Gavin Grimm and a Virginia school district, which is headed to the Supreme Court sometime this year.
Parents are right to be worried about their children's safety in school bathrooms — but hopefully, the administration will see that those same children and teens should be allowed to use whatever bathroom they feel most comfortable in.