The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana and other civil rights advocacy groups are speaking out against the Trump administration’s decision to rescind federal guidelines protecting transgender students in school restrooms, calling the move dangerous and irresponsible.
Last spring, the U.S. Justice and Education departments, based on their interpretation of Title IX, issued a directive to U.S. public schools, advising them to allow transgender students to use the restroom and locker room facilities that align with their gender identity. Although not enforceable as law, the Obama administration implied that schools that did not comply with the guidelines would risk losing their federal funding.
The directives sparked controversy nationwide, including here in Indiana as school districts grappled with their own policies for accommodating transgender students. At a joint press conference Thursday afternoon, representatives from the ACLU of Indiana, Brothers United Inc. of Indianapolis, Sisters United of Indianapolis, Indiana Youth Group and Freedom Indiana voiced their concerns about the implications of President Donald Trump’s decision to rescind those protections Wednesday.
“I fear that this action will embolden some to deny trans children the same respect and dignity that is given to their classmates,” said Kit Malone, the ACLU of Indiana’s Transgender Education and Advocacy Program consultant. “It is simply irresponsible to abandon so many kids who already face so many terrible obstacles.”
Kriztina Inskeep, a board member of Indiana Youth Group and mother of a transgender son, said although the rescission of the directives do not change the law, it does create additional turmoil and confusion in public schools.
While many people who call for others to use the restroom that aligns with their biological gender say they do so out of concern for public safety, especially the safety of young girls, Terrell Park, program manager for Brothers United, said so-called “bathroom bills” – or legislation designed to force the use of restrooms that align with a person’s biological gender – are actually about discrimination.
“Bathroom bills are not about protecting children or cisgender women,” Parker said. “They are about denying someone the opportunity to identify as their true selves.
As the nationwide debate over LGBT rights continues, Malone said the ACLU of Indiana has launched new programming to educate the public about the issues transgender people face in today’s society.