Rep. Susan Davis Leads Letter to Education Secretary Urging Protections for Transgender Students

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Washington, DC, March 3, 2017 | comments

Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego), ranking member of the Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee, led committee Democrats urging Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to protect transgender students. The letter to DeVos is in response to President Trump’s order rescinding the guidance around protections put in place by President Obama.

“Civil rights are at the heart of having access to a quality education,” said Davis. “The federal government has a responsibility to protect these rights.  Title IX protections have been very successful in guaranteeing equal access to education opportunities. While this decision doesn’t end Title IX protections, rolling back the proactive guidance issued by President Obama sends the wrong message.”

“If the Department of Justice remains resistant to generally protecting LGBTQIA students, we ask that you take concrete steps to at least ensure the safety of these students under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education,” the letter states. “We recommend that you convene groups of state and district leaders to discuss best practices for supporting transgender students, provide resources for school employees that detail how they can create inclusive environment, and highlight examples of schools that implement these best practices effectively.”

Davis also signed onto an amicus brief to the Supreme Court in support of Gavin Grimm in his case against Gloucester County School Board.

Full text of the letter to Secretary DeVos can be read here and below.

Dear Madame Secretary:

We are writing to express our profound concern about the recent reversal of critical guidance for protecting transgender students. The elimination of the guidance clarifying the scope of Title IX protections will send a dangerous message to transgender students. We were heartened to read your statement which recognized our responsibility to ensure that every student in American has, “the freedom to learn and thrive in a safe and trusted environment.” However, we are confused by the sharp contrast between this statement and the comments you made at the Conservative Political Action Conference where you called these key safeguards examples of federal overreach.

As members of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, we know that students learn best when they feel supported and protected at school. We also know that too many transgender students are bullied in schools across our country every day. According to a study conducted by the National Center of Transgender Equality, 54% of transgender students surveyed reported being verbally harassed and 24% reported being physically attacked. In fact, the study found that 17% of transgender students were so badly mistreated that they left their schools altogether. Given the alarming impact of these statistics on the quality of life and education for transgender students, we ask that you clarify your views on the scope of the Department of Education’s responsibility to protect these students. Additionally, we ask that you share what you believe the Department of Education’s Title IX responsibilities are in the case of LGBTQIA students. 

If the Department of Justice remains resistant to generally protecting LGBTQIA students, we ask that you take concrete steps to at least ensure the safety of these students under the jurisdiction of the Department of Education. We recommend that you convene groups of state and district leaders to discuss best practices for supporting transgender students, provide resources for school employees that detail how they can create inclusive environment, and highlight examples of schools that implement these best practices effectively.

We are counting on your leadership on this important issue and hope you will protect students across our country. We remain committed to helping you in these vital efforts, and thank you for your prompt attention to this issue.

Sincerely,

Rep. Susan Davis

Rep. Bobby Scott

Rep. Raúl Grijalva

Rep. Marcia Fudge

Rep. Jared Polis

Rep. Suzanne Bonamici

Rep. Mark Takano

Rep. Alma Adams

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier

Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester

Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi

Rep. Carol Shea-Porter

Rep. Adriano Espaillat

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