Betsy DeVos Defends Civil Rights Of Bigots Who Want To Discriminate Against Trans Kids

Culture Wars

Ever since she purchased her Cabinet position from the crony capitalism section on eBay, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has dedicated herself to freeing children from the tyranny of an education. She recently tried to liberate $1 billion from after-school and college-prep programs for poor kids and deliver the bounty to charter schools and private school vouchers, but she had to settle for just $400 million like some common Debbie Ocean who hates public education. These temporary setbacks, though, don't mean trans students and their unreasonable "treat us like people" demands have escaped her attention.

Transgender students briefly enjoyed protections under Title IX -- the federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs. This was back in May of 2016 ... before the dark times ... before the Trump administration, which rescinded the Obama directive that permitted trans students to use the bathrooms that fit with their gender identity. Students who had to contend with hostile school administrators soon discovered that DeVos's Education department did not have their back. DeVos herself issued only vague statements of support when otherwise dismissing a trans student's complaints.

"[E]ach school has a responsibility to protect every student in America and ensure that they have the freedom to learn and thrive in a safe environment. Some states and school districts have found adopted policies and practices that protect all students, including transgender students."

You noticed the "all students" in there, didn't you? Yeah, DeVos is now turning this all around to protect cisgender students from the folks who force good Christians to learn the word "cisgender." Her department is currently investigating a complaint that alleges a 5-year-old girl was assaulted in the girl's bathroom at Oakhurst Elementary in Decatur, Georgia, by a student who identified as "gender fluid."

The complaint was filed with help from the Orwellian-named Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian group that seeks to take freedom from LGBT citizens. They could honestly refer to themselves as the Alliance Depriving Freedom and they wouldn't have to change the monograms on all their towels. DeVos's "Office for Civil Rights" reportedly will "consider whether a student was assaulted because Decatur City School district allows transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice."

Uh, no, the student was assaulted because someone assaulted her. What is it that the Second Amendment lovers like DeVos tell us when the dust is settling after the latest mass shooting? "Guns don't kill people. People kill people"? Consistency argues then that "transgender bathroom policies" don't assault kids, either.

We've grown accustomed to people saying stupid things on their face about trans kids wanting to use the bathroom that fits their gender identity. Mike Huckabee and others who timeshare one small bigoted brain (with beach access!) have argued male students would Soul Man themselves into the girls locker room and reap all the social benefits from outing themselves even in 2018 as transgender. Even the poorest kid has multiple methods of accessing online porn (it was already installed on all the free Obama phones). They don't need to pull a "Bosom Buddies" to see bosoms. It's apparently the worst thing in the world to accuse grown men up for the Supreme Court of being sexual predators, but bigots have no trouble claiming without evidence that trans children are active threats.

This specific investigation in Decatur is repulsive because it argues that trans children create a "hostile environment" that prevents children from learning. Similar arguments were made to keep black students out of white schools. The details of the assault or what the complaint calls a "sexual harassment incident" are unclear. It could be awful or it could be what conservatives would dismiss as "horseplay" if the offender was cisgender. We don't even know how old the child is who allegedly commited assault. Six, or 16? There might be a difference! Conservatives are also on record as denouncing the "zero tolerance" policies for student sexual harassment. It is not surprising, of course, that the ADF would embrace such terminology as "hostile environment" and twist it to their own ends. Even if the incident occurred as described, all trans students everywhere shouldn't share the blame or the punishment. But it seems like if you don't want to be burdened with the sins of everyone who's like you, you'd have to "identify" as a white cisgender man.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."


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