Monday, February 27, 2017

Trump Right to Fix Obama’s Unlawful Transgender School Policy

The Trump administration acted Wednesday night to fix the Obama administration’s unlawful “gender identity” school policy and return authority to parents and teachers in the states.

Civil rights officers in the Department of Justice and the Department of Education issued a joint letter saying the administration was rescinding the policy, which had required schools to allow students who identify as transgender to use the restrooms, locker rooms and similar facilities of their choice—or face loss of federal funds.

In the letter, they said the Obama mandate did not show “due regard for the primary role of the states and local school districts” in making education policy.

The Trump administration is doing the right thing in correcting Obama’s unlawful overreach, which imposed a one-sided solution on all 50 states. Parents and teachers in local schools now can work to find win-win solutions that protect the dignity, privacy, and safety of all students.

For years, the Obama administration unilaterally had redefined bans on “sex” discrimination to include “gender identity.”

The problem came to a head May 13, when Obama’s Justice and Education departments sent a “Dear Colleague” letter to our nation’s schools, informing them that “both federal agencies treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX,” a 1972 law prohibiting sex discrimination in federally funded schools.

With this decree, the Obama administration directed all schools to allow “students to participate in sex-segregated activities and access sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity.”

Schools were told they had to allow students access to bathrooms, locker rooms, dorm rooms, and hotel rooms for overnight field trips based entirely on the self-declared gender identities of their students.

On Aug. 21, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled the Obama administration’s attempt to redefine sex was unlawful, and blocked the decree from going into effect.

O’Connor held that it “cannot be disputed that the plain meaning of the term sex as used … following passage of Title IX meant the biological and anatomical differences between male and female,” and he placed a nationwide injunction on the administration’s guidance to schools.

The Justice Department, under Attorney General Loretta Lynch, appealed this ruling Oct. 20. But on Feb. 10, with Jeff Sessions as the nation’s new attorney general, the Justice Department withdrew that motion for a stay and cancelled the scheduled oral arguments.

The Trump administration rescinded the Obama guidance saying officials would interpret the word “sex” in Title IX to mean “gender identity.” Instead, the administration will allow parents and teachers to work together in local schools to find nuanced solutions that address the needs of everyone.

Wednesday night’s moves signaled a change in position that could have a significant impact on the Justice Department’s controversial Title IX lawsuit against North Carolina’s Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act (known as HB2), which the Trump administration inherited.

The actions also could affect a Title IX gender identity case, currently set for oral argument at the Supreme Court next month, that depends in large part on the Department of Education’s position.

Dignity, Privacy, and Safety Concerns

Last week at The Heritage Foundation, a panel of women explained the many policy problems with “gender identity” laws. As one of them said, “when gender identity wins, women always lose.”

The panelists—a rape survivor, a lesbian, a feminist activist, a stay-at-home mom, and a conservative—explained how people who identify as transgender should be free to live as they want, but that the law shouldn’t therefore eliminate women-only spaces or redefine what it is to be a woman.

While we must be sensitive to the dignity, privacy, and safety concerns of people who identify as transgender, that is not a reason to ignore the dignity, privacy, and safety concerns of everyone else.

Unfortunately, the Obama-era policies were entirely one-sided. They favored the concerns of people who identify as transgender while entirely discounting the concerns of others.

Safe Spaces for Women, a group that “provides survivors of sexual assault with care, support, understanding, and advice,” recently submitted an amicus brief to the Supreme Court explaining how gender identity policies can negatively impact sexual assault survivors:

Safe Spaces for Women has a strong interest in ensuring that the voices of women who have suffered sexual abuse are heeded when policies are made that may directly affect their physical, emotional, and psychological well-being. This includes policies that require educational institutions covered by Title IX to admit to female showers, locker rooms, and restrooms biological males who identify as female. While Safe Spaces for Women bears no animus toward the transgendered community, it is deeply concerned that … survivors of sexual assault are likely to suffer psychological trauma as a result of encountering biological males—even those with entirely innocent intentions—in the traditional safe spaces of women’s showers, locker rooms, and bathrooms.

The brief goes on to note that the guidance from the Obama administration was issued “without giving those affected a voice in the process. … improperly circumvent[ing] the notice and comment process when that process was needed most.”

Likewise, Kenneth V. Lanning, a 40-year veteran law enforcement officer who specialized in sex crimes for the FBI at Quantico for 20 years, explains the problem with “gender identity-based access policies” for sex-specific intimate facilities.

Lanning says “the problem with potential sex offenses is not crimes by transgendered persons,” but rather “offenses by males who are not really transgendered but who would exploit the entirely subjective provisions” of such policies “to facilitate their sexual behavior or offenses.” Lanning explains that:

Allowing a man, based only on his claim to be [a] transgendered woman, to have unlimited access to women’s rest rooms, locker rooms, changing rooms, showers, etc. will make it easier for the type of sex offense behavior previously described to happen to more women and children. Such access would create an additional risk for potential victims in a previously protected setting and a new defense for a wide variety of sexual victimization.

Indeed, as The Daily Signal previously noted, such sexual victimization already is occurring by men who have disguised themselves as women.

What to Do Now

Wednesday night’s actions by the Justice and Education departments will lead to good policy outcomes, which is why it should not be limited to Title IX.

The Trump administration should extend this decision to every area where federal agencies have imposed new “gender identity” rules on the American people without basis in law, without congressional authorization, without considering legitimate countervailing concerns, and without the support of the American people.

Congress should make such administrative actions permanent by reintroducing and passing H.R. 5812, the Civil Rights Uniformity Act, which clarifies that the term “sex” does not mean “gender identity” for the purpose of interpreting civil rights statutes. This would have the benefit of undoing the past and current abuses of Title IX, as well as preventing future abuses of other civil rights law.

Passing the Civil Rights Uniformity Act would ensure that unelected bureaucrats and judges would not get to unilaterally reshape policy affecting women and girls. It would allow schools to continue providing separate bathroom and locker room facilities and sports teams based on biological sex, not gender identity.

It also would address other unilateral Obama-era “gender identity” reinterpretations in health care, emergency shelters, housing, and employment. At the same time, such legislation would properly leave states and private entities entirely free to provide nuanced, sensitive, and reasonable accommodations of people who identify as transgender.

Up until last year’s prime-time interview of the celebrity then known as Bruce Jenner, few Americans ever had had a conversation about transgender issues. It’s a conversation we need to have.

But the Obama administration tried to shut down these discussions before they’ve even begun. The Obama administration attempted to force a one-size-fits-all policy on the entire nation rather than allow parents and teachers and local schools the time, space, and flexibility to find solutions that work best for everyone.

The Trump administration has taken the first steps to correct this.

While the Obama administration attempted to rewrite law to impose a federal “gender identity” policy on the entire nation, the Trump administration is respecting federalism, local decision-making, and parental authority in education.

For most Americans, concerns related to transgender students are a new reality. Rather than follow the Obama administration’s rush to impose a top-down solution on the entire country, the Trump administration is allowing the American people to have these conversations, consider all the relevant concerns, and make policies that will best serve all Americans.

Good for them.


Michigan State U. Bans Whiteboards in the Dorms Because People Write Things on Them

Are students engaging in more harassment, or are administrators defining harassment too broadly?

Michigan State University will prohibit students from hanging whiteboards on their dorm room doors beginning in the fall.

That's because some people write offensive messages on them, and the university wants to take an even more proactive approach to fighting harassment.

Apparently, instances of students writing hate speech on other students' whiteboards have become more frequent.

"The functionality of whiteboards used to outweigh the downsides," Kat Cooper, a university spokesperson, told The Detroit Free Press. "That's not happening anymore."

Maybe students don't need to write on each other's whiteboards—they can just text. But if that's the case, why not just let whiteboards be optional? If a student doesn't find them useful, or is worried about offensive messages, he can take his down.

No, no—they all must come down. There's too great a danger of someone saying something that someone else doesn't like, according to administrators. The Free Press's article details the numerous strategies MSU deploys to prevent such an occurrence:

The university also has an anti-discrimination policy.

Staff, including resident assistants inside buildings, file reports with MSU's Office of Institutional Equity when they come upon offensive language on whiteboards. That office investigates the issues when reported, through the people who write the offending words or images are rarely identified.

"Any student found in violation of the university's Anti-Discrimination Policy can face sanctions ranging from a warning to suspension," Ande Durojaiye, director of Office of Institutional Equity, wrote in an e-mail.

Here's a theory: maybe the behavior of MSU students isn't worsening—maybe people aren't suddenly more prone to engage in harassment. Rather, the university has defined harassment in increasingly subjective terms, and encouraged members of campus to report each other anonymously. Students aren't abusing the whiteboards: administrators are abusing the students' free expression rights.

In such an environment, I'm sure it makes more sense for MSU to simply shut everyone up.


Australian university asks white male students to fill out a questionnaire 'to understand why they are privileged'

University students were handed a 29-point 'male privilege checklist' during diversity workshops on orientation week.

The checklist detailed ways in which males were perceived to have advantages over females in careers, sexuality, personal safety, child rearing, and even clothing.

The University of Western Australia in Perth confirmed the checklist was part of 'Diversity Dialogue' workshops last week, along with material on race and sexuality.

'My odds of being hired for a job, when competing against female applicants, are probably skewed in my favour,' the first point read.

'My clothing is typically less expensive and better-constructed,' another read, adding that 'my clothes will probably fit better'.

Other lines on the first page said carelessness with finances or driving would not be attributed to a male's sex, their grooming is quicker and cheap, and were not assumed to have to sacrifice career for family.

Point 17 read: 'If I'm not conventionally attractive, the disadvantages are small and easy to ignore.'

Promiscuous men were less likely to be called a s**t, males were interrupted less, under less pressure to be thin, and men's ability to make decision was never question due to the 'time of the month'.

Other material in the workshops included a 20-point list called 'understanding white privilege' where students had to tick yes, no or maybe next to each line.

One read: 'Can you go into a shopping centre by yourself and be confident you won't be harassed or threatened?'

'Can you operate successfully in public life, knowing only your first language?' another read.

Others dealt with whether people made them feel welcome and included, and saw people of their race on TV or at work, felt comfortable around authority figures, or were positively portrayed in the media.

The last point read: 'Can you name five famous Australians of your own ethnic background?'

The third handout, 'understanding heterosexual privilege', asked if students took for granted rights like public displays of affection, and talking openly about their relationship.

Others included their partner appearing in family photos, not feeling judged, and not having people assume their partner was of the other gender.

Students discussing them on school leaver social media groups were outraged at being 'forced' to sit through the workshops.

'That's just wrong,' one student wrote, while another commented 'you have got to be joking'. A third even wrote an eight-point 'female privilege checklist'.

A young woman said though men did have advantages over women, the checklist was 'dumb' and ignored the women also had privileges. 'I think the best way to realise the different types of advantages we have all had is through listening to other people's stories, not to have a blatant check list that blames one section of people,' she wrote.

UWA said the workshops were voluntary and used to start a conversation about unconscious biases about gender, race and diverse sexuality.

'Some of the examples listed on the material are common unconscious biases that people may have, sourced from documents provided by organisations such as the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission,' it said.

'They are intended as discussion points, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the university, its staff, or students.'


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