February 23, 2017
Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,
I am writing to express dismay at yet another action at the federal level that is diametrically at odds with the values of the College: the decision by the Trump administration to withdraw a mandate that transgender students be treated by their schools in ways consistent with their gender identity. I condemn the rescinding of guidance that helped provide protection for some of our most vulnerable youth. The protections that have been rescinded were issued in the form of guidance under Title IX by the Obama administration. In their brief letter of guidance, the current Departments of Justice and Education explained last night that legal confusion and inadequate vetting of the existing guidance led to the decision to withdraw the protections. They also argued that the issues are best handled at the state and local levels. I agree with civil-rights experts who argue that transgender and other LGBTQ rights are fundamental civil rights that ought to be protected at the federal level. I note that Secretary DeVos is said to have opposed the withdrawal of federal protections. She tweeted a statement in support of LGBTQ rights soon after news of the withdrawal was released. Here is a link to: 1) the letter of guidance issued by President Obama’s Office of Civil Rights; 2) the guidance from Attorney General Sessions; and, 3) Secretary DeVos’ s statement. I want to emphasize that Title IX law has not changed and a range of organizations are offering legal help to transgender students who encounter discrimination in schools, among them Lambda Legal, the ACLU, and the Human Rights Campaign.