The New York Times published a piece this morning titled, “Fight Erupts Over Transgender Students’ Rights.” One of the authors of the article tweeted this:
Betsy DeVos is fighting Jeff Sessions on rescinding transgender student protections. She appears to have lost. https://t.co/vH3q8CNK0D
— Jeremy W. Peters (@jwpetersNYT) February 22, 2017
Having reservations over Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos I jumped the gun and tweeted.
Well she justifies my previous concerns every day. Glad she lost. So Christian school folks, do you still think she was a good pick? https://t.co/oag6AUFPVj
— Shane Vander Hart (@shanevanderhart) February 22, 2017
This followed some rather disappointing remarks made about the Every Student Succeeds Act and Common Core last week so I can’t say I’ve been horribly impressed with her performance thus far. I also know her past has been rather sketchy on this issue so the news was believable.
I violated my own cardinal rule however – “don’t stop at the headline.”
First the title makes you think that there was some sort of cage match between DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, but this is what the New York Times actually wrote:
Ms. DeVos initially resisted signing off on the order and told President Trump that she was uncomfortable with it, according to three Republicans with direct knowledge of the internal discussions. The draft order would reverse the directives put in place last year by the Obama administration to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice.
Mr. Sessions, who strongly opposes expanding gay, lesbian and transgender rights, fought Ms. DeVos on the issue and pressed her to relent because he could not go forward without her consent. The order must come from the Justice and Education Departments.
Mr. Trump sided with his attorney general, these Republicans said, telling Ms. DeVos in a meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday that he wanted her to drop her objections. And Ms. DeVos, faced with the choice of resigning or defying the president, has agreed to go along.
Second, the story was totally based on anonymous sources.
Politico had their own report linked to the New York Times story said White House spokesperson Sean Spicer denied the cabinet feud.
“There’s no daylight between anybody — between the president, between any of the secretaries,” he said. “I think there’s been some discussion between the timing of the issuance and recommendations — or between the exact wording. But as far as the conclusions go, I’ve made this clear and the president’s made it clear throughout the campaign that he is a firm believer of states’ rights and that certain issues like this are not best dealt with at the federal level.”
The problem with the New York Times story and many other articles that have been published of late is that they have been totally based on anonymous sources who can be completely unreliable. Did DeVos have some objections? Perhaps. Maybe she thought there should be a commenting period before the directive is rescinded. Was she asked for her resignation if she didn’t comply? Well, all cabinet members serve at the pleasure of the President and insubordination in any job can be grounds for termination.
But we simply don’t know and I trust the New York Times about as far as I can throw them, especially when a story is solely based on anonymous sources.
I shouldn’t have jumped the gun. I can also say that I am pleased the Trump administration appears poised to rescind President Obama’s illegal and unconstitutional directive for our nation’s schools. His directive misinterpreted Congress’ intent when they passed Title IX as they did not include gender identity in the language of the law. Rescinding this order should be a no brainer as most states and school districts have addressed the issue of bullying and have policies in place. It was executive overreach by President Obama plain and simple.
Also there are legitimate concerns about a fundamental right to privacy that the Obama administration has completely ignored.
“No school should impose a policy allowing boys to use the girls’ locker rooms or shower areas. Parents have a right to protect their children, and schools have a responsibility to do the same. We sympathize with children who have difficult personal issues to work through, but young men shouldn’t be permitted to deal with those issues in intimate settings with young girls, some as young as 14. Our daughters should never be forced to share private, intimate spaces with male classmates, even if those young men are struggling with these issues. It violates their right to privacy and harms their dignity. School districts should adopt privacy policies that respect the needs of all children because every child matters. The federal government should support them in doing so,” Vicki Wilson said in a press release sent out by Alliance Defending Freedom. Wison is the mother of a child at Fremd High School in Palatine, IL, and a member of Students and Parents for Privacy, a group that is suing the school district and the federal government to protect student privacy.
Parents are not the only ones upset, and this directive does not just impact public schools.
“As a 17-year-old junior at a private Christian school, I don’t think boys should be allowed to use girls’ locker rooms or shower areas. Every student deserves to be treated equally, with dignity and respect. These bad policies do not promote equality because they force girls like me to undress or take a shower while a boy is present. There are better, compassionate solutions for kids who are struggling with these issues that protect the privacy, dignity, and well-being of all students because every student has value,” A Christian school student in Pennsylvania named Emma said in the ADF press release.
Emma represents other girls who are deeply concerned about efforts to force girls to share their locker rooms, showers, and restrooms with boys.
“The privacy, safety, and dignity of young students should be the first concern of every local school official across America. The Obama administration radically distorted a federal law that was meant to equalize educational opportunities for women and then forced local officials to intermingle boys and girls within students’ private facilities like locker rooms, hotel rooms on school trips, and restrooms. The Trump administration would be right to return to the rule of law by rescinding the Obama administration’s misleading guidance. That’s just common sense. School officials shouldn’t have to fear losing crucial federal funding when they protect all students’ privacy,” ADF senior counsel Gary Caleb said in a released statement.
Rescinding the federal directive on school bathrooms and locker rooms is simply common sense.