Tag Archives: u.s. department of education

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.  

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.”

$57,000 boys-only trip prompts equality training for Dallas schools

The Dallas Independent School District has agreed to provide gender-equality training to its principals and other district officials following a U.S. Department of Education investigation into a boys-only field trip to see a movie earlier this year.

The agreement with the department’s Office of Civil Rights, reached last week, aims to prevent any repeats of the outing that would exclude students from educational opportunities based on gender.

The school district spent $57,000 on the February field trip for the district’s 5,000 fifth-grade boys to see “Red Tails,” about the legendary Tuskegee Airmen.

Most girls stayed at their schools and watched “Akeelah and the Bee,” a fictional story about a girl who competes in a spelling bee.

Not all saw it, though, because not all principals showed it.

“I think it’s good to have a refresher training,” district Superintendent Mike Miles told the Dallas Morning News. “I knew we had an issue with the ‘Red Tails,’ and now we are going to comply. It will be good training.”

Principals are scheduled to attend a two-hour training session in August. The district’s school leadership department will also undergo training, he said.

Emails obtained by the newspaper showed that the trip was conceived by then-interim schools chief Shirley Ison-Newsome, who was recently made an assistant superintendent overseeing a cluster of schools and given a raise. Most of the money for the trip came from a fund for an early childhood initiative, the emails showed.

The Texas Education Agency was also investigating the funds used to pay for the trip. The status of that investigation was not immediately known.

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