On Wednesday, President Donald Trump did something major that will have an affect on both children and adults alike. This order goes back on progress the Obama administration had made — and its not pretty. This week, Trump lifted transgender bathroom protections, leaving the nation in chaos and unsure of what would happen next.
With the use of his pen, Trump lifted transgender bathroom protections, which protected transgender students, allowing them to use the bathroom correlating with their gender identity, rather than the one on their birth certificate, according to the BBC. According to The New York Times, a draft of Trump's letter rescinding the order stated that schools have "struggled to understand and apply the statements of policy and guidance" pertaining to Obama's original order.
The draft of Trump's order, according to The New York Times, is a "significant rollback" of transgender protections, but still does offer some protections of transgender students from bullying. Regardless of these protections, however, lifting transgender bathroom protections in schools is absolutely frustrating to many: Trump has stated that the rescinding of Obama's order is to "more completely consider legal issues," according to Reuters, now allowing for public schools "to set [their] own rules." According to The New York Times, this is because White House press secretary Sean Spicer stated that Trump is a "firm believer in state's rights," giving power to the state to make decisions pertaining to this matter. Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos was reportedly opposed to this decision, according to Quartz.
But the United States has seen what happens when states are given the decision to make choices about bathrooms and gender. In 2016, North Carolina's "bathroom bill" — a bill that dictated all bathrooms in public schools should be designated for use of people based on the "biological sex" on their birth certificate, according to ABC News — brought great controversy and a significant revenue loss to the state. If North Carolina is any indication for how states will handle transgender protections, the future doesn't look promising.
However, it is not directly clear whether or not states will actually move to make decisions pertaining to transgender bathroom protections or what the next step will be for the Trump administration pertaining to this issue. That is because, according to CNN, Trump's rescinding of the policy does not offer new guidance for the protection — it only removes it. However, the letter does dictate that "there must be 'due regard' for the role of states and local school districts in shaping education policy in schools." According to BuzzFeed, Trump's decision will likely have "little short-term impact on schools" and will more than likely "neutralize lawsuits" from states that challenged Obama's policy.
Because of this uncertainty, what happens next for these transgender students might be a serious question mark. And now, more than ever, is a time to advocate and fight for the rights of these individuals. Go to your local school board meetings and let your voice be heard. Locate and write to your state representatives who are in charge of making decisions at the state level. If protections like these are being left to state politicians, then let those politicians know that you're holding them accountable.
The impending fall-out, now that the Trump administration has rescinded Obama's order, is entirely unknown — but the fight is not yet over.