Politico tells the story of Alex Howe, a Texan high school student who hated the walk all the way to the unisex bathroom stalls in the middle of a building far from his classrooms. Since he is a transgender boy, his school district banned him from entering the boy’s restrooms making it inconvenient for him and forcing him to either choose the girl’s restroom or walking to the unisex stalls. As if that were not enough humiliation, conservative parents told the debate coach they didn’t want Howe sharing a room with their sons on trips to competitions. The coach argued that Howe should be treated the same as all of the other kids but the school administrators sided with the parents- Howe was forced to room alone. Transgender students like Howe are forced into a life of isolation because when they decide to be themselves, they are not included.
Howe isn’t the only student across the United States facing issues like this, kids face this every day, adults do, too. However, when students try to make change, the government turns a blind eye. After graduating in 2017, Howe filed a complaint with federal civil rights officials at the Department of Education hoping to make a change. After some research, Politico reports that his complaint is one of at least five involving transgender student rights that was thrown out by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who has halted investigations like these.
In 2016, president Trump said:
“[Transgender people] should use the bathroom they feel is appropriate.”
However, his policies how otherwise. The Education Department declined to answer questions about how it handles transgender cases but after Politico published their article, they released a statement saying:
“[We are] committed to defending the civil rights of all students and ensuring all students have an equal opportunity to learn in an environment free from harassment and discrimination. [We will continue to use] current law and current regulation to determine if any child in school is being harassed or discriminated against due to race, sex, or disability.”
Politico’s investigation showed at least 107 complaints filed with the Education Department since January of 2014, all connected to transgender students who were treated differently, excluded, or denied benefits.
GLSEN says that most transgender students are required to use bathrooms that don’t match their gender identity. This sort of emotional abuse and exclusion has an effect on the mental health of these children and the Department of Education refuses to act. When Betsy DeVos decides it is easier to look the other way than to act, we must ensure these issues are not forgotten.
h/t: Politico, True Pundit