Arne Duncan Blasts Trump Administration Over Transgender Guidance


Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan has blasted the Trump administration’s decision to repeal guidance that sought to ensure transgender students have access to a bathroom that matches their gender identity.

“This week’s decision by the Trump administration to withdraw guidance to school communities about how to protect transgender students reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the federal role in protecting the civil rights of students,” Duncan and Catherine Lhamon, former assistant education secretary for civil rights, wrote in an op-ed in the The Washington Post. “Worse yet, it confuses states and school districts, and puts real, live children at greater risk of harm.”

Duncan served as education chief in the Obama administration for seven years. Notably, the transgender guidance – issued in concert with the Department of Justice – initially came down when Duncan’s successor, John King, was secretary of education.

In the opinion piece, Duncan and Lhamon underscored that the decision to issue the guidance came after conversations with transgender students, parents, teachers, principals and school administrators.

They also said if reports that new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos locked horns with Attorney General Jeff Sessions on issuing the guidance are true – which the White House disputed – they “give her some credit for trying.”

Still, they said, the outcome is foreboding for many.

“Would she win if students with disabilities were illegally denied the educational supports they need and deserve?” the pair wrote. “Would she win if students of color continued to be suspended and expelled far out of proportion to their numbers? Would she block schools from discriminating in other nefarious ways?”

Duncan and Lhamon also argued that leaving such a decision to states as the Trump administration has called for would mean some students will be protected and others won’t.

“This decision is thoughtless, cruel and sad and was implemented without serious consideration for the students it affects,” they wrote. “Unless the Trump administration is arguing that transgender students are not people, it must extend these basic protections to all students.”

Tags: Betsy DeVos, Arne Duncan, transgender, LGBT rights, Department of Education, John King, Donald Trump, Jeff Sessions, education, education reform

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