BY CHRIS JOHNSON, WASHINGTON BLADE
In the aftermath of the Trump administration revoking Obama-era guidance assuring transgender kids have access to school restrooms consistent with their gender identity, the Log Cabin Republicans met with Education Department officials Tuesday to propose a new plan that would support transgender kids and local authority in schools.
At the meeting, the Log Cabin Republicans presented a white paper by Log Cabin and Liberty Education Forum to make the case for its proposals along with its Transgender Leadership Caucus.
In a statement that called the Obama-era regulations “onerous,” Gregory Angelo, president of Log Cabin, said the white paper “marks the culmination of weeks of work on behalf of transgender students, but it does not mark the end of our efforts.”
“Log Cabin Republicans remains committed to the safety of transgender students and the equality of all students, and we look forward to continued conversations with the Trump administration to achieve that end,” Angelo said.
In February, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions revoked the guidance, which was jointly issued by the Education and Justice Departments in the final year of the Obama administration. The guidance informed schools they could be at risk of losing funds under Title IX if they discriminate against trans students or refuse to allow them bathroom access consistent with their gender identity.
The white paper makes the case for federal guidance that protects transgender students and respects local control as courts across the country are finding Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 requires states to allow transgender students to use the restroom consistent with their gender identity.
“There exists an important need to provide basic liberties to all students while still respecting the diverse municipal landscapes which comprise the thousands of school districts in our nation,” the paper says. “A transgender student’s freedom needs to be handled in the same responsible manner that applies to their non-transgender peers. If consistent accommodations are being made for non-transgender students, those same accommodations must be made for their transgender peers.”
The white paper recommends the renaming of single stall, single-sex restrooms as single stall, gender-inclusive restrooms; inspecting multiple stall restrooms to ensure they possess adequate locks for security; and providing curtains and partitions for locker room changing areas. Each of these changes, the white paper says, would come at infinitesimal costs, citing seven schools throughout the country that made similar changes at minimal expense.
Members of Log Cabin’s Transgender Leadership Caucus who were present at the meeting were Jordan Evans, Regina Roberts, Jennifer Williams and Susan Maddison, according to the organization.
“The promise of the Trump phenomenon was that LGBT people could get our full rights protected under a Republican president, without our having to serve as cannon fodder for the Democrat[ic] Party,” Maddison stated. “That hasn’t happened yet, but today’s meeting is a first step toward realizing that promise. If the meeting leads to solid actions, our community may finally get liberated from the stifling ideological cages, and America will come out much the stronger for it.”
The meeting took place after Log Cabin faced criticism when Angelo reportedly didn’t denounce anti-trans remarks at a recent forum in New York City for gay conservatives. Log Cabin responded on Twitter that Angelo did speak in favor of transgender rights (although those remarks didn’t seem to be in response to the anti-trans comments).
Whether Log Cabin’s proposals will be accepted by the Trump administration or other LGBT advocates remains to be seen. The National Center for Transgender Equality didn’t immediately respond to the Blade’s request for comment on the Log Cabin white paper.
Angelo declined to comment on which principals attended the meeting, citing the off-the-record nature of the discussion. DeVos’ public schedule had no meeting with Log Cabin scheduled for Tuesday and instead indicated she was in Salt Lake City for a conference.
If DeVos had attended the Log Cabin meeting, it wouldn’t be the first time she met with LGBT advocates as education secretary. In March, representatives from a trio of LGBT advocacy groups — the National Center for Transgender Equality, GLSEN and Equality Michigan — met with DeVos in the aftermath of the rollback of the Obama-era guidance.
The Education Department didn’t respond to multiple requests from the Blade Tuesday to comment on the meeting.