Betsy DeVos’s Education Department has finally come down with a decision for their agency’s policy regarding transgender students, and it’s not good.
According to Buzzfeed News, The Education Department says it “won’t investigate or take action on any complaints filed by transgender students who are banned from restrooms that match their gender identity.”
This move marks a sharp departure from Donald Trump’s rhetoric on the campaign trail. In June 2016, while accepting the Republican presidential nomination, he said, “I will do everything in my power to protect our LGBTQ citizens.” He was responding to then recent attacks at Pulse nightclub, where Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard, killed 49 people and wounded 58 others.
He also tweeted that he would “fight for” LGBT citizens.
Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 14, 2016
These words were followed up by an administration that attempted to institute a ban on transgender people in the military, with little success.
The point is that there is very little connection between his words about protecting LGBT citizens and his actions. According to the Human Rights Campaign, there is little reliable data on the scope of anti-transgender violence, we do know that about 93% of known victims are people of color, and that nine out of ten are transgender women.
To be clear, the problem is wider in scope than only transgender students. The Education Department, in plain language, is telling students of all types across the nation that it’s not particularly concerned with investigating issues of discrimination. That is a chilling message for people who already face such high levels of discrimination and have much to lose.
The Education Department later clarified their message with Buzzfeed, saying that certain complaints would be investigated, but not bathroom-related ones. The one silver lining is that it may be a legally tenuous position for the department, setting up challenges to its implementation. Two federal appeals courts have already ruled that access to restrooms matching gender identity is covered under Title IX.
There is a long way to go, but if there’s one thing to take away, it’s that this does not appear to be – in any way, shape, or form – the protection that Donald Trump promised before he rose to power.