Led by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), Senators Al Franken (D-MN), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Maggie Hassan (D-NH) sent a letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos requesting detailed information on her decision to revoke the joint guidance on transgender students’ rights under the Title IX law. According to news reports, after apparently having substantial misgivings about the decision, Secretary DeVos agreed to revoke the guidance despite having determined that doing so could jeopardize transgender students’ access to education free of harassment, bullying, and discrimination.
“The suggestion that the Department jeopardized the health or well-being of any student because of political pressure is extremely alarming,” wrote the Senators in the new letter. “By revoking the transgender guidance, you have put the safety and wellbeing of transgender students at risk.”
; supplies only vague statements that the Department of Education will “explore every appropriate opportunity to protect all students and to encourage civility in our classrooms”; and fails to offer examples, guidance, or instruction on how to comply with these goals or how the Department will evaluate whether schools are in compliance with their legal obligations under Title IX.
“Not only does revoking the transgender guidance send a shameful message, but the Dear Colleague letter replacing it, and your comments about the issue, are severely misleading,” wrote the Senators. “All students – no matter their race, religion, disability, country of origin, sexual orientation, or gender identity – deserve to have their civil rights vigorously enforced and access to education free from discrimination fiercely protected.”
Given the serious concerns about the revocation of the transgender guidance, the Senators are requesting an immediate briefing and written explanations on how the Department intends to enforce civil rights laws including Title IX, the impact of revoking the guidance on students and schools, the process by which the decision to revoke the guidance was made, and more.
Full letter below or click here for a pdf of the letter.