Public school teachers, administrators and staff refusing to address ‘transgender” students by their preferred pronouns or names could be called under investigation, the United States Department of Education’s (DOE) Office of Civil Rights (OCR) recently declared.
On June 6, DOE Acting Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights Candice Jackson issued the DOE’s attorneys and investigators a memo directing them to receive transgender students’ discrimination complaints and take them under consideration on a case-by-case basis.
Obama’s LGBT legacy lives on …
Attempts by President Donald Trump’s administration to turn former President Barack Obama’s aggressive pro-LGBT agenda in public schools around have hit an obstacle with the OCR’s latest memo.
“Although Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos issued a joint memo in February that effectively rescinded last year's Obama administration guidance that called on schools to allow students to access bathrooms and locker rooms that are in accordance with their gender identity, the memo states that transgender students still have some valid discrimination complaints worthy of an OCR investigation,” The Christian Post (CP) reported.
In the OCR’s pro-LGBT directive, public school employees will face punishment for not acquiescing to gender-confused student’s demands regarding their self-proclaimed sexuality.
“The memo lists a number of valid reasons why OCR investigators would be legally able to assert ‘subject matter jurisdiction over and open for investigation,’ such as a school's failure to quickly and equitably resolve a transgender student's complaint of sex discrimination, or treating a student different[ly] because of his or her failure to conform to ‘stereotyped notions of masculinity or femininity," CP’s Samuel Smith informed. “Additionally, an investigation could be had if there is failure to assess – whether sexual harassment or gender-based harassment – of a ‘transgender student created a hostile environment.’"
Taking it even further, the LGBT-friendly document sets up transgender students as a privileged class, stressing that ‘harassment” takes place if new ultra-Left demands are not met by school staff.
“[Gender-based harassment] occurs when school staff is witnessed] refusing to use a transgender student's preferred name or pronouns when the school uses preferred names for gender-conforming students, or when the refusal is motivated by animus toward people who do not conform to sex stereotypes,” the memo reads.
What about the bathrooms?
Even though new strides for the LGBT community have been made with the OCR’s memo, denying transgender students special restroom and locker room privileges according to their perceived gender was not included on the memo’s list, according to the Los Angeles Times.
"Please evaluate each allegation separately, searching for permissible jurisdictional basis for OCR to retain and pursue the complaint," the memo states. "It is permissible, for example, for one allegation in a complaint (such as harassment based on gender stereotypes) to go forward while another allegation (such as denial of access to restroom based on gender identity) is dismissed."
However, Catherine Lhamon, who led the OCR during the Obama administration, indicated that the pro-LGBT gains made during the last presidency will not be lost during the Trump administration.
"It was something I created after resolutions that were insufficiently comprehensive, and realizing we needed to be more thorough," Lhamon said, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
It was insisted by DeVos’ press secretary, Elizabeth Hill, that a more expeditious resolution of complaints is one of the intentions behind the new rules.
"These internal enforcement instructions seek to clear out the backlog, while giving every complaint the individualized and thorough consideration it deserves," Hill expressed in an email obtained by the Times. "There is no longer an artificial requirement to collect several years of data when many complaints can be adequately addressed much more efficiently and quickly."
However, even though the OCR previously reported a “notoriously high backlog” of open cases – with many institutions under investigation calling the process very cumbersome – some far-Left critics of the new policies, such as Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), insist that they weaken the protections of students petitioning to the OCR for relief.
"President Trump and his administration can claim to oppose discrimination all they want, but actions speak louder than words," Murray stated, according to the Times. "Everything they are doing is making it clear that they want to defang and weaken the federal government’s tools to protect the civil rights and safety of people across the country."
Transgenders not losing ground?
Jackson made it clear that the Trump administration’s rejection of Obama’s guidance earlier in the year will not excuse school personnel from fully enforcing the new pro-LGBT directive.
"[It is imperative for DeVos and myself that] our investigators not make the mistake of assuming that just because that particular guidance has been rescinded, that all complaints filed by transgender students are going to be dismissed," Jackson told the Washington Post, "We wanted to very carefully explain in written format to our field that every investigator assigned to one of these cases needs to go through and individually examine every complaint, and actively search for ways that OCR can retain jurisdiction over the complaint."
The Left-leaning Lhamon, who does not want to see the pro-LGBT progress made during the Obama administration lose any ground, is strongly opposed to the latest memo. While serving under Obama last May, she helped write a “Dear Colleague” letter to public school districts contending that transgender students’ so-called “rights” to use restrooms and locker rooms – consistent with their chosen gender identity – are protected under Title IX.
As the current U.S. Commission on Civil Rights chair, Lhamon argues that the memo does not champion LGBT rights aggressively enough.
"This guidance says that OCR gets to pick and choose which cases it will open, and it could be appropriate to dismiss – for lack of jurisdiction – an allegation that a transgender student is not able to access a bathroom consistent with their gender identity," Lhamon, told the Post. "That is not an option under the law, and OCR does not have the option to pick and choose the cases it wants to open."
Despite Lhamon’s contention, an anonymous OCR employee called the memo a “green light” to move transgender students’ discrimination complaints forward – including petitions to access opposite-sex restrooms.
"The presumption here should be it's business as usual, and not that OCR is abdicating its role as a protector of civil rights for transgender students," the unnamed OCR staffer told the Post, noting that all students not permitted to access restrooms or locker rooms according to their new gender identity are now eligible to be recognized as victims of sex stereotyping discrimination.
Agreeing with this analysis, a former Obama Justice Department staffer, Anurima Bhargava, asserted to the Post that the latest memo can be used as a battering ram to give school officials the ability to investigate transgenders’ bathroom access complaints.
"It is saying, ‘Proceed in accordance with the law,’ and the law is moving in the right direction," Bhargava impressed while commending the pro-LGBT aspects of the memo.