Despite the conservative majority on the U.S. Supreme Court, this week, they handed down an important decision in favor of the rights of transgender students. Without comment, they left a lower court ruling in place that allowed for Pennsylvania’s Boyertown Area School District public school students to in most cases, use the bathrooms and locker rooms corresponding with their gender identity. The district argued, quite simply, that it “believes that transgender students should have the right to use school bathroom and locker facilities on the same basis as non-transgender students.”
The case against that policy had alleged that it constituted federally prohibited invasions of privacy and sexual harassment, which multiple courts all the way up to the highest in the country have now seemingly indicated is a ludicrous argument — although to be sure, there’s no national legal precedent set in the absence of an explanation from the Supreme Court. They declined to get involved in a similar major case back in 2017 and have still issued no comprehensive ruling on the issue of transgender rights surrounding access to gendered facilities in the United States.
The Obama administration had demanded that school districts across the country accommodate transgender students in the facilities corresponding to their gender identities, which the Boyertown Area district has been doing on a case-by-case basis. The Trump administration has rolled back that Obama era guidance to public schools.
The Boyertown Area’s policy getting upheld comes as the Trump administration continues to seek to roll back other protections for LGBTQ people across the United States. The perhaps most infamous example is their plan to block transgender people from serving in the U.S. Armed Forces in part based on the lie that providing for them would present an outlandish burden to the military, which in reality, spends more on Viagra. After multiple blocks in lower courts, the Supreme Court allowed that policy to go into effect while lower level litigation played out.
There are more challenges to LGBTQ rights that the Trump team has launched; for instance, they’ve recently been reported to be planning on making it easier for adoption organizations to reject same-sex couples. The Obama administration demanded such agencies to accommodate such couples if they wanted to receive any federal funding, but as of last week, the Trump administration was considering adding an exemption for religious organizations.
The Health and Human Services Department’s Office of Civil Rights has also announced that it’s dumping a policy prohibiting doctors from discriminating against transgender patients and has “expanded health care workers’ legal right to refuse to perform services that violate their religious beliefs,” as Axios explains it.
The attacks on LGBTQ rights fit into a much broader picture of the Trump administration going after minorities through means like their repeated attempts to roll back asylum provisions for undocumented immigrants. President Donald Trump himself went so far that he told border patrol agents to explicitly break the law and turn asylum seekers around back into Central America, which their superiors had to then come in and reiterate remained illegal no matter what the president says.
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