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NWLC and Our Partners Just Sent a Letter to Every State About Trans Students’ Rights

By: Alexandra Brodsky, FellowPosted on July 18, 2017 Issues: Education & Title IX

Today, the National Women’s Law Center and 49 of our partners sent a letter to state education leaders in every single state reminding them that the law is the law: Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972  protects students against anti-trans discrimination. We were honored to coordinate the letter alongside Public Justice and Lambda Legal.

As we’ve written before, Title IX prohibits sex stereotyping in education—that is, different treatment based on outdated ideas of how girls and boys should act and look because of their gender. That prohibition on sex stereotyping includes discrimination against trans students. For example, if a school won’t use male pronouns to refer to a trans boy, they are discriminating against him because he deviates from the stereotype that boys are identified as such at birth. Courts across the country agree. So did the Department of Education under President Obama.

Unfortunately, one of the first things Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos did when they took office was rescind key 2016 guidance that made clear to schools that Title IX prohibited discrimination against trans student. But make no mistake: that guidance didn’t change the law, and neither did its rescission.

We sent today’s letter to remind students that, whatever Sessions and DeVos say, they have a duty to protect and respect trans students. As Adele Kimmel, Public Justice attorney said, “Secretary DeVos and Attorney General Sessions are doing schools a great disservice by suggesting the law is open for interpretation. We want school officials to understand that it is not.”