On March 1, 2017

Learning our lessons on Title IX

Dear Editor,

Title IX is an educational amendment to the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Enacted by Congress and signed into law by Nixon in 1972, the amendment states that there can be no discrimination on the basis of sex in any school receiving federal aid.

In 2016, Obama enacted the guidance clause to reflect current questions regarding gay and transgendered students. This allows for students to use the facilities of the sex that they identify with in schools. Although this guidance has been contested on procedural implementation grounds, it tries to clarify the intent of the original Title IX document by saying that any other interpretation would be considered discrimination.

Last week, Trump rescinded the guidance with the signatures of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos. DeVos received her first lesson as the head of the Department of Education. When she spoke out to maintain the guidance clause, Jeff Sessions quickly threatened her with job loss if she didn’t go along with Trump. Welcome to the regime, Betsy.

In typical alt-speak of the new administration, all three parties subsequently verbally asserted their commitment to LGBTQ communities, while their actions demonstrated just the opposite.

Returning the power of interpreting Title IX and other laws to the individual states is part of the Trump agenda. Sadly, it does not take much of an education to predict which states will uphold the guidance and which will not. Sidestepping the guidance at the federal level in effect gives states that choose to discriminate at least temporary free rein to do so. But this will not mitigate litigation. The clarification of the letter of the law as it pertains to Title IX and the intent of the law will need to be determined, eventually, by the Supreme Court.

In the meantime, gay and transgendered youths have lost a layer of protection. The message is that they are not deserving of equality. It is also a message to the LGBTQ community at large that they will not be respected in Trump’s America. And who better to hammer home this lesson on than young, vulnerable students who already have a sense of “different-ness” or “other-ness”, and suffer a high rate of harassment at school?

Disenfranchisement does not work; it doesn’t work in education and it doesn’t work in society. These are not the lessons that lead to nurturing the healthy growth of young people into adjusted adults. They are not the lessons that teach acceptance and inclusivity. These are not the lessons of a healthy nation.

Candy Jones, Rutland

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