Tag Archives: Title IX

Trump administration revoking guidelines protecting transgender students

The Trump administration will revoke federal guidelines that tell public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their chosen gender identity, the White House said on Feb. 22.

The decision would be a reversal of an Obama-era directive advising public schools to grant students access to facilities in line with their expressed gender identity and not necessarily the gender on their birth certificate.

A government official with knowledge of the plans told The Associated Press that the Obama-era guidance would be rescinded, but anti-bullying safeguards would not be changed.

The Obama administration’s guidance was based on its determination that Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education and activities, applies to gender identity.

While not legally binding, the guidance sent a warning that schools could lose federal funding if they did not comply.

Republicans have pushed back, arguing that the federal effort was an example of the Obama administration meddling in state and local matters, and in August 2016, a federal judge in Texas put a temporary hold on the Obama guidance after 13 states sued.

The Washington Post first reported the Trump administration’s plans and LGBT rights groups have been rallying the community to protest for several days.

“By rescinding these protections, the Trump administration is compromising the safety and security of some of our most vulnerable children,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. “Reversing this guidance tells trans kids that it’s OK with the Trump administration and the Department of Education for them to be abused and harassed at school for being trans.”

Legal experts said the change in position could impact pending court cases involving the federal sex discrimination law, including a case set to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in March, involving a transgender teen who was denied bathroom access in Virginia.

Here’s more reaction to the development…

OutServe-SLDN executive director Matt Thorn: “This action also strikes in contradiction to first lady Melania Trumps’ mission to eradicate bullying and marginalization of our youth in this country. This rescission directly and emphatically opens the door for discrimination and bullying of already vulnerable students who need nurturing and protection.”

GLSEN executive director Dr. Eliza Byard: “While the Trump administration may abandon transgender students, GLSEN never will. This guidance was developed and issued to support transgender students because the reality is that transgender students are far more likely to face severe violence and discrimination at school than their peers, placing them at greatly increased risk of suicide and self-harm as a result. When students are allowed to be themselves, they thrive. This guidance changes and saves lives and hurts no one. It should not be withdrawn.”

Rea Carey, executive director, National LGBTQ Task Force: “Protecting those who are the most vulnerable in our education system should always be a top priority for any President of the United States and his cabinet. Their jobs should be to ensure that all students regardless of race, religion, gender, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, receive a top notch education. But Trump isn’t any president: he, Pence, Sessions and DeVos are chomping at the bit to weaken our nation’s public school system and in this instance have reportedly sought to remove the few protections young transgender students have. It’s shameful and we are not going to stand for it. Anyone who agrees that trans and gender nonconforming students deserve equity in our nation’s schools, should join us in calling on this administration to stop working to undermine these protections.”

NEA president Lily Eskelsen García: “Every student matters, and every student has the right to feel safe, welcomed, and valued in our public schools. This is our legal, ethical and moral obligation. The Trump administration’s plans to reverse protections for transgender students by rescinding the Title IX guidance, is dangerous, ill-advised, and unnecessary.

“We reject this discriminatory plan because it is a drastic departure from our core values. We don’t teach hate, we do not tell people how to pray, and we do not discriminate against people based on their religion, gender, or identity. Period.

“As the Trump administration threatens our students and our values, we will double-down on our efforts to protect our most vulnerable citizens, including our LGBTQ students and members. We urge more states, school districts, and schools to adopt protections for transgender students. We owe to our students because they need to see us take a bold stand against discrimination whatever form it takes.”

Transgender ‘milestones’ took decades, more lawsuits to come

Legal experts and advocates for the approximately 700,000 transgender people estimated to be living in the United States say recent headline-grabbing developments reflect a slowly evolving change in the law.

“The trend is clearly toward recognizing that sex discrimination law protects against gender identity discrimination,” said Suzanne B. Goldberg, director of the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law at Columbia University’s law school.

Over the next few years there will likely be more court cases on that question, advocates on both sides agreed. Courts must decide whether decades-old federal laws that prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person’s sex also prohibit discrimination based on a person’s gender identity.

The federal government says yes, but two important federal laws barring discrimination are not explicit: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination by employers, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities.

Adam P. Romero, a legal scholar at UCLA’s Williams Institute, which does research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy, predicted more rulings favoring the transgender community.

The U.S. Supreme Court could ultimately take a case on the protections transgender people have under federal law, he said, but probably not soon because the law is “rapidly evolving” and the court generally doesn’t like to take up an issue until it has had time to mature. The court might also feel it doesn’t need to intervene at all if lower courts are moving in the same direction.

But Matt Sharp, legal counsel for the Arizona-based conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom, predicted the issue would reach the high court within a few years.

He said lawmakers who wrote Title VII and Title IX never intended for them to cover gender identity, calling that a “fundamental redefinition of the law.” If Congress wants to make a change it should pass legislation, he said.

Before the late 1980s, transgender people didn’t have much luck claiming civil rights protections under federal law.

In 1977, one court of appeals ruled that Title VII of the Civil Rights Act didn’t cover a woman fired for transitioning from Robert to Ramona. And in 1984, another appeals court used the same reasoning to rule against an Eastern Airlines pilot fired after transitioning from Kenneth to Karen.

But a 1989 Supreme Court case pointing in the opposite direction has proved to be a landmark, scholars said. In that case, Price Waterhouse v. Hopkins, a woman wasn’t promoted in part because some partners felt she didn’t act feminine enough. The court ruled that the Civil Rights Act barred not just discrimination based on a person’s sex but also discrimination based on gender stereotypes.

Courts have subsequently found in favor of transgender plaintiffs alleging they were fired or not hired as a result of being transgender.

Vandy Beth Glenn was fired from her job with the Georgia General Assembly after announcing she intended to transition. When she sued in 2008, her lawyers called her case a longshot, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, which covers Alabama, Florida and Georgia, ultimately ruled in her favor in 2011.

“I feel like we’ve come so much further even since then. It’s been pretty amazing,” she said in a telephone interview.

In April, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, which covers Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, ruled in favor of a transgender Virginia teen who had been barred from using the boys’ restroom at school.

Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign — the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group — defined the series of developments as “milestones”  in May.

The attorney general’s speech announcing the federal government would sue North Carolina was a “huge public moment” and “one of those moments you know you’ve seen history in the making,” she said.

Transgender rights activist Mara Keisling, executive director of the Washington-based National Center for Transgender Equality, agreed the moment was “really, really remarkable” but said the administration wouldn’t have taken those actions if it weren’t on solid legal ground.

Still, Keisling said, it was emotional.

“Trans people were crying all over the country,” Keisling said. “To have the attorney general of the United States say: ‘I have your back, DOJ has your back and the president of the United States has your back’ — it was so important. It was so necessary. People are still crying, crying with relief and amazement.”

Feds: Victims felt traumatized after UNM sex assault probes

A U.S. Justice Department review of nearly 173 allegations of sexual harassment — including sexual assault, stalking and domestic violence — at the University of New Mexico included reports from women who described feeling traumatized as school officials investigated their complaints.

Findings released earlier this month from a 16-month Justice Department probe into the University of New Mexico’s handling of sexual harassment complaints found the school had violated federal laws as it dismissed allegations without properly weighing evidence, showed gender bias or insensitivity in its reviews, and took as long as eight months to investigate complaints.

Federal guidelines recommend that a school’s sexual harassment investigations are completed in 60 days.

University of New Mexico President Robert Frank said the investigation painted an inaccurate picture of the campus because it represented only a snapshot in time.

But Frank said he would cooperate with the government on its recommendations — which come after the school has already begun rolling out policy changes and awareness campaigns to make the campus safer.

“Department of Justice or no Department of Justice this has been our standard all along,” he said.

WHAT PROMPTED THE INVESTIGATION

The Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division opened its investigation after receiving complaints from victims over the university’s handling of their reports.

Much of the investigation, launched in December 2014, reviewed the school’s compliance with a law known as Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination at schools that receive federal funds. While better known for guaranteeing girls equal access to sports, Title IX also regulates institutions’ handling of sexual violence and is increasingly being used by victims who say their schools failed to protect them.

WHAT WERE INVESTIGATORS’ KEY FINDINGS?

Students, faculty and staff lack a basic understanding of their options for reporting assaults or where to turn for help, and the school’s broken system for handling complaints has created a confusing grievance process, the Justice Department said.

During the course of the investigation, school administrators already began improving how allegations are investigated, but there is still need for improvement, federal officials said. Frank, the university’s president, said the school’s recent efforts weren’t adequately represented in the report.

In one case, a student described how an investigator with the school’s Office of Equal Opportunity repeatedly called the person accused in the assault her “ex-lover,” despite reporting the two had no prior relationship, federal authorities said. Another student’s case was determined to have lacked “tangible” evidence that her attacker tried to strangle her, despite medical records showing she had redness and bruising on her neck, according to the federal investigation.

WHAT’S NEXT?

A meeting that has yet to be scheduled is the next step to reach an agreement on implementing federal recommendations.

The Justice Department recommends the university provide training to students and staff with information on how to report attacks. It also urged the school to revise its policies so it can promptly respond to sexual harassment, which creates a hostile campus environment.

But there’s little precedent for how the Justice Department might track steps for reform. The University of New Mexico is only the second school to undergo a Justice Department probe under Title IX into its handling of sexual harassment claims. The University of Montana was the first.

In Montana, school officials reached an agreement with the Justice Department requiring them to hire a higher-education consultant with expertise in harassment prevention to develop policies and training. The university also had to set a timeline for clarifying how students and staff report assault and harassment.

Human Rights Campaign condemns Wisconsin Republicans’ bathroom bill

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender civil rights organization, condemned today’s decision by the Wisconsin Assembly’s Republican leadership to allow a hearing on legislation that the group contends would encourage discrimination against transgender students.

Assembly Bill 469, dubbed the “Student Privacy Protection Bill” by its backers and the “bathroom bill” by its critics, seeks to ban transgender students in K-12 schools from using the gender-segregated facilities that align with their gender identity rather than their birth gender. It would require school districts to repeal anti-discrimination reforms and accommodations policies.

The legislation contradicts best-practice recommendations from leading medical and mental health groups, civil rights organizations and education associations. It also conflicts with findings and guidelines from federal agencies — from Labor to Justice, HUD to Education.

HRC issued a press release stating that Assembly Bill 469 “puts trans students in harm’s way and puts school districts in conflict with federal law legislation that would expose trans and gender nonconforming students to heightened risk of bullying, harassment and discrimination. Not only is the bill shameful and horrific public policy, passing it would put the state in conflict with federal law.”

An earlier hearing on the bill was scheduled for Nov. 5, but postponed after by the U.S. Department of Education determined that a similar bill in Illinois violated Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

“This bill doesn’t belong on the floor of any state legislature — it belongs in the garbage,” said HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow.  “All members of the Wisconsin Assembly should be deeply concerned about how AB 469 will place transgender and gender non-conforming students at risk for discrimination and harassment. This reckless and irresponsible bill would put school districts and educators in direct conflict with federal law, creating unnecessary confusion and liability for schools all across Wisconsin. The legislature should abandon this proposal, focusing instead on creating an inclusive learning environment that enables all students to succeed, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

This year has seen an alarming uptick of anti-transgender state bills across the country, according to HRC. Bills aiming to restrict transgender Americans’ access to public accommodations, school activities, or appropriate medical care have been introduced in Florida, Kentucky, Missouri, Texas, South Dakota, Minnesota, Connecticut and South Carolina.

“Fortunately, each of these harmful state bills was defeated in 2015, although such legislation is likely to be reintroduced next year,” HRC said.  

Tell Wisconsin Republicans to flush ‘bathroom bill’ and retrieve their minds from the toilet

“Bathroom fears flush Houston ordinance.” Such headlines circulated on Nov. 4, the morning after voters went to the polls in Houston and rejected a broad measure — the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, better known as HERO — intended to protect 15 classes of people from discrimination.

The Human Rights Campaign called the defeat at the polls devastating for the people of Houston and a setback for the LGBT civil rights movement.

The measure had strong support from local politicians and the business community, but was challenged by a conservative faction that dubbed it the “bathroom ordinance” and argued it would allow predatory men to invade women’s restrooms.

A “Weekend Update” segment on Saturday Night Live on Nov. 14 ridiculed the Fox-influenced right-wing campaign against the ordinance. “So the theory is that guys, in their relentless quest to watch women go to the bathroom, are going through years of hormones, surgery, changing their names, their wardrobe, coming out to their families, all for that big payoff of peeing in a room without urinals. What is this fantasy that they think is going on in there?” said actor Pete Davidson.

Yet, as ludicrous as it seems, that was the argument to win over about 61 percent of those who cast ballots on Election Day in Houston.

Of course, the opponents of HERO were peddling lies about its intent and its potential impact, just as Wisconsin Republicans, seeking to advance a “bathroom bill,” are circulating fiction as fact and playing up gross and harmful stereotypes, casting transgender kids as deviants, perverts and predators.

Once a pioneering state on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, Wisconsin lacks a statewide law banning bias based on gender identity. What exists are partial piece-meal protections in more progressive communities and more progressive school districts.

Now, Republicans are keyed up to roll back limited protections for transgender students in dozens of districts and halt any further reform.

AB 469, the Student Privacy Protection Bill, seeks to ban transgender students in K-12 schools from using the gender-segregated facilities that align with their gender identity and would require school districts to repeal anti-discrimination reforms and accommodations policies. The legislation is contrary to best-practice recommendations from leading medical and mental health groups, civil rights organizations and education associations. And the proposal is in conflict with findings and guidelines from federal agencies — from Labor to Justice, HUD to Education.

In Early November, the U.S. Department of Education issued a landmark ruling, finding that a suburban Chicago school district discriminated against a transgender student on the basis of her sex.

In junior high, the girl was denied access to the girl’s locker room and the girl’s restroom. This treatment caused her to be bullied on a daily basis and her parents vowed that she would not suffer the same in high school. They legally changed the child’s name, obtained a corrected passport that identified the child as female and submitted medical records to the school.

The result? The girl was still denied access to the girl’s locker room and disciplined when she did use the girl’s facilities.

The Education Department, after a lengthy investigation, concluded the school district violated federal law by denying a girl access to a gender-appropriate locker room for changing clothes simply because she is transgender. The decision placed school districts across the nation on notice that Title IX requires making such facilities available for students who are transgender.

The girl, known in the ACLU’s legal challenge as “Student A,” has hopes that “no other student, anywhere, is forced to confront this indignity.”

But if the ill-informed anatomy police succeed and AB 469 becomes law in Wisconsin, more students will suffer and students will be forced to confront indignities.

Take action

Tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m., the Assembly Committee on Education will hold their first hearing on AB 469, which would target transgender Wisconsin students for unfair treatment.

Before the legislators take up this dangerous bill for the first time tomorrow, they need to hear from you, their constituents.

Take a minute right now and click here to email your lawmakers directly before tomorrow’s critical hearing. 

Transgender student in Illinois wins landmark ruling from Education Dept.

The U.S. Department of Education this week issued a landmark ruling recognizing that Palatine High School District 211 in Illinois is discriminating against a transgender student on the basis of her sex.

The department issued its findings after a lengthy investigation concluding that the suburban district is in violation of federal law for denying a student access to a gender-appropriate locker room for changing clothes, simply because the student is transgender.

Despite protestations from the district over the past two weeks, the department made clear that the school is engaging in harmful discrimination, according to the ACLU of Illinois.

“What our client wants is not hard to understand. She wants to be accepted for who she is and to be treated with dignity and respect – like any other student,” stated John Knight, director of the LGBT & HIV Project of the ACLU of Illinois. “The district’s insistence on separating my client from other students is blatant discrimination. Rather than approaching this issue with sensitivity and dignity, the district has attempted to justify its conduct by challenging my client’s identity as a girl.” 

The written decision, released by the department’s Office of Civil Rights today, finds the district in violation of Title IX for denying a student access to the locker room facilities used by other students solely because the student is transgender. The decision places school districts all across the nation on notice that Title IX requires making such facilities available for students who are transgender. It is the first such decision issued by the department, building on legal briefs and policy statements of the federal government interpreting federal laws prohibiting discrimination.

“This decision makes me extremely happy — because of what it means for me, personally, and for countless others,” said the student, who has not been identified. “The district’s policy stigmatized me, often making me feel like I was not a ‘normal person.’”

“The Department of Education’s decision makes clear that what my school did was wrong. I hope no other student, anywhere, is forced to confront this indignity.  It is a good day for all students, but especially those who are transgender all across the nation.” 

In an effort to pre-empt the Department of Education’s ruling — and frame their discrimination as “reasonable” and “sensible” —District 211 has engaged in what the ACLU called “a comprehensive public relations campaign over the past two weeks.

The ACLU said the school district has mischaracterized the facts in the case and engaged in disparaging remarks, including statements indicating their belief that the young girl is not “really” a girl.

Although the district delayed the release of the findings in an effort to reach an agreement, the department has apparently recognized that the district does not intend to begin complying with the law.

Meanwhile, a student-led petition gathered hundreds of signatures from students and community members supporting the student’s access to the locker room. 

The Education Department concluded that forcing a student to dress in a separate restroom for changing, which in this case was down a long hallway from the locker room, violated Title IX because it separated and stigmatized that student solely because she is transgender. The investigation made clear that the district’s claims about any problems resulting from ending the discrimination were unsupported both because other students were not concerned about the issue and because, in general, girls do not fully undress when getting ready for gym or many sporting activities. And to the extent that any girl wanted extra privacy, the District should offer them private areas to dress rather than isolating students who are transgender.  

“The District’s position is wrong as a matter of science and harmful to all the students of District 211,” Knight said, “Trying to misinform students and tell them that discrimination is acceptable isn’t the kind of conduct we expect from school administrators – and isn’t a message that students are likely to accept.”

Today’s decision is the result of a complaint to the Department of Education in December 2013 on behalf of the young woman. She has identified as a female since a very early age and shared this information with her family several years ago. She transitioned to living full-time as a female and has been doing so ever since.  She and her parents have legally changed her name and obtained a passport listing her gender as female. 

When the young woman entered high school, she and her parents met with school officials to request that she be treated as a female in all ways, including sports, and bathroom and locker room access. She was allowed to use the restroom designated for females, wear the female uniform during physical education class and sports, but was denied use the female locker room when changing. Instead, she was directed to a separate bathroom for changing, a bathroom located down a long hallway from the gym.

Being separated from her classmates and teammates in this way has made her feel stigmatized and different. More than two years ago, her parents began to advocate, urging school officials to reverse this decision. After those efforts were unsuccessful, the parents reached out to the ACLU of Illinois, who wrote to the school explaining why the district was violating Title IX and the Illinois Human Rights Act. Because the district refused to budge, lawyers for the ACLU filed a complaint for the parents with the Department of Education in December of that same year.

Survey: 1 in 4 college women report unwanted sexual contact

Nearly a quarter of undergraduate women surveyed at more than two dozen universities say they experienced unwanted sexual contact sometime during college, according to a report.

The results of the Association of American Universities Campus Climate Survey come at a time of heightened scrutiny of the nation’s colleges and universities and what they are doing to combat sexual assault. Vice President Joe Biden recently visited Ohio State University and highlighted several new initiatives, including mandatory sexual violence awareness training for the school’s freshmen beginning next year.

The survey was sent this spring to nearly 780,000 students at the association’s member colleges, plus one additional university. About 150,000 participated in the online questionnaire. Researchers said results could be biased slightly upwards because students who ignored the survey may have been less likely to report victimization.

The results were generally in line with past surveys on sexual assault and misconduct on college campuses — and confirmed that alcohol and drugs are important risk factors.

“How many surveys will it take before we act with the urgency these crimes demand?” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, who is pushing for passage of a bill that would address how sexual assault cases are handled on campus and the resources available to help students.

Researchers cautioned against generalizations from the data, partly because experiences of different students and at different schools could vary widely. It was not a representative sample of all the nation’s colleges and universities.

Some students attended schools that have recently grappled with reports of sexual assaults or misconduct, including the University of Virginia, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Ohio State.

University of Virginia President Teresa A. Sullivan has said that a widely discredited and later retracted Rolling Stone magazine story about a gang-rape at a fraternity house harmed efforts to fight sexual violence and tarred the school’s reputation. Hazing that included excessive underage drinking and sexualized conduct — though none of it aimed at females — prompted the University of Wisconsin-Madison to terminate a fraternity chapter earlier this year. And Ohio State fired its marching band director last year after an internal investigation turned up a “sexualized culture” of rituals and traditions inside the celebrated organization.

The Obama administration has taken steps to push colleges to better tackle the problem of sexual assault, including releasing the names of 55 colleges and universities last year that were facing Title IX investigations for their handling of such cases. A settlement in one of those cases, between UVA and the U.S. Department of Education has been announced. It included several changes the university will make to the handling of sexual assault cases.

Other participating schools said survey results also would bolster their ongoing efforts. Dartmouth said it will form a committee of students, faculty and staff to analyze the data, as well as conduct its own attitudes survey starting in October.

Gregory Fenves, president of The University of Texas at Austin, said, “It is essential that we foster a campus that does not tolerate sexual assaults while strongly encouraging victims to come forward and report incidents.”

Overall, 23 percent of undergraduate women at the participating universities said they had been physically forced — or threatened with force — into nonconsensual sexual contact or incapacitated when it happened. That included activities ranging from sexual touching or kissing to penetration. For undergraduate men, the percentage was 5 percent.

The survey found freshman women appeared to be at greater risk than older students for these forced or incapacitated encounters. About 17 percent of freshman females reported sexual contact that was forced or while incapacitated; for senior-year students, the percentage had dropped to 11 percent.

The survey provided a rare glimpse into the experiences of the small percentage of students who are transgender or who don’t identify as either male or female. Undergraduates in that category reported the highest rate of the most serious nonconsensual acts.

“Our universities are working to ensure their campuses are safe places for students,” AAU President Hunter Rawlings said in a statement. “The primary goal of the survey is to help them better understand the experiences and attitudes of their students with respect to this challenge.”

The study found that only a relatively small percentage of serious incidents was reported to the university or another group, including law enforcement. Across the institutions, it ranged from 5 percent to 25 percent.

The most common reason cited by students for not reporting an incident was that they didn’t consider it serious enough. Others said they were embarrassed or ashamed or “did not think anything would be done about it.”

Those who chose to report the incidents, however, said they had generally favorable experiences. Well over half said their experience with the organization that handled the report was very good or excellent.

Twenty-six participating institutions were AAU member research universities: Brown; California Institute of Technology; Case Western Reserve; Columbia; Cornell; Harvard; Yale; Iowa State; Michigan State; Ohio State; Purdue; Texas A&M; and the universities of Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota-Twin Cities, Missouri-Columbia, North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Southern California, Texas at Austin, Virginia, Wisconsin-Madison and Washingtocn University in St. Louis. One nonmember, Dartmouth College, also participated.

Education Department issues guidance on Title IX protections for transgender students

The U.S. Department of Education on April 29 issued guidance clarifying that federal Title IX prohibits discrimination against transgender students.

The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT civil rights group, welcomed the guidance issued by the Department’s Office for Civil Rights, which says “Title IX’s sex discrimination prohibition extends to claims of discrimination based on gender identity or failure to conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity and OCR accepts such complaints for investigation.”

“Every student has a fundamental right to go to school in a safe learning environment that respects who they are as a person,” said HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow in a news release. “We thank the Department of Education for doing the right thing and standing with transgender and gender non-conforming students who deserve nothing less than a safe learning environment free of discrimination.”

About 78 percent of transgender children in grades K-12 reported being harassed in school, 35 percent physically assaulted and 12 percent sexually assaulted, according to a 2011 report from the National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.

An HRC Foundation survey of more than 10,000 LGBT youth found that more than four in 10 gender-expansive youth report “frequently” or “often” being called names involving anti-gay slurs and 40 percent report being excluded by peers “frequently” or “often.”

And more than half of gender-expansive youth reported “never participating” in the majority of activities listed in the survey (e.g., sports, church/religious youth groups and service organizations) out of fear of discrimination.

“This guidance is crystal clear and leaves no room for uncertainty on the part of schools regarding their legal obligation to protect transgender students from discrimination,” said Ian Thompson, ACLU legislative representative. “The Office for Civil Rights must now take the next step and issue comprehensive guidance on Title IX and transgender students.”

Gender equity progress stalls in high school sports in 2000s

Progress toward gender equity in high school sports slowed during the 2000s after a decade of increasing athletic opportunities for girls, according to a new study out this week.

The study also shows a spike in the number of high schools eliminating interscholastic sports programs for girls and boys.

The report from Sport, Health and Activity Research and Policy Center for Women and Girls shows that opportunities for girls in high school athletics increased from 1993-1994 and again from 1999-2000 but that it slowed during this past decade.

The report from SHARP, a collaboration of the University of Michigan and the Women’s Sports Foundation, examines high school offerings 40 years after the passage of Title IX, the landmark legislation mandating gender equality in education.

“Many believe that girls and women have finally achieved athletic equality,” said WSF CEO Kathryn Olson, noting the record participation of U.S. women in this summer’s Olympics. “However, these findings suggest that we simply aren’t there yet. In fact, we are moving farther and farther away from equality with the cutting of interscholastic sports.”

Olson continued, “It goes beyond the physical benefits of sport. Sports are an integral part of the educational experience; students who participate in sports are shown to achieve greater academic success. The decline of interscholastic athletic opportunities should be looked at as an erosion of the educational capacity.”

The report, in the conclusion, said, “A protracted retreat from the legislative mandate of Title IX unfolded across the decade. “

The Sharp Center study, titled “The Decade of Decline: Gender Equity in High School Sports,” found:

• Athletic opportunities expanded across the decade, but boys’ allotment grew more than girls. By 2009-10, 53 athletic opportunities were offered for every 100 boys, compared with 41 opportunities for every 100 girls.

• By 2009-10 boys still received disproportionately more athletic opportunities than girls in all community settings — urban, suburban, towns and rural communities.

• In 2000, 8.2 percent of schools offered no sports programs, the percentage nearly doubled by 2010, rising to about 15 percent. Schools with disproportionately higher female enrollments were more likely to have dropped interscholastic sports between 2000 and 2010.

• Seven percent of public schools lost sports programs between 2000 and 2010, while less than 1 percent added sports to their curriculum. It is estimated that by the year 2020, 27 percent of U.S. public high schools would be without any interscholastic sports, translating to an estimated 3.4 million young Americans – 1,658,046 girls and 1,798,782 boys – who would not have any school-based sports activities to participate in by 2020 if the trend continues.

Mother of gay suicide victim files wrongful death suit

The mother of a 15-year-old Indiana teenager who hanged himself two years ago has filed a wrongful death suit against the school district and four employees. The suit alleges the school’s response to harassment led Billy Lucas to take his life.

The plaintiff in the suit is Billy Lucas’ mother, Ann Lucas, and the defendants are the Greensburg Community School system and four employees – former Greensburg Junior High School principal Rodney King, current principal David Strouse and teachers Iris Ramp and Darci Kovacich.

The suit, filed in federal court in Indianapolis, alleges that Billy was “subjected to relentless harassment, ridicule and bullying” at the Greensburg, Ind., school for several years and that the harassment was over Lucas’ ethnicity and sexual orientation. Students, after his death, said that Billy was called “fag” and other names and everyone seemed to know about the bullying.

The suit states that Billy “had a right to be free from sexual harassment and discrimination based on sexual orientation while in any educational program or activity that receives federal financial assistance.”



The complaint claims that the school employees knew about the harassment and failed to take steps to protect the boy.

The employees also allegedly participated in the harassment.

King, according to the complaint, told Lucas, “If someone beat you up, I wouldn’t know whether to give him an award or suspend him.”

Ramp and Kovacich also allegedly participated in verbally insulting and abusing Lucas on multiple occasions

The suit, making the case for wrongful death, states, 
”The District failed to take reasonable measures to prevent (Billy Lucas) from being subjected to bullying when he was at school or a school-sponsored activity. As a direct result of the District’s negligence, (Billy Lucas) committed suicide.”



Ann Lucas is asking for compensatory and punitive damages, attorney fees and other costs associated with the suit’s action.
 She is represented by the Frazier Law Firm in Indianapolis.