DeVos, Sessions Clashed Over Transgender Decision

Jackie Evancho asks for Trump meeting
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2017 5:23 AM CST
Updated Feb 23, 2017 6:05 AM CST
DeVos 'Resisted Trump on Transgender Move'
A new sticker is placed on the door at the ceremonial opening of a gender neutral bathroom at Nathan Hale High School in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)

President Trump's reversal of former President Obama's directive on bathroom use for transgender students caused a clash inside his administration, sources say. GOP insiders tell the New York Times that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos clashed with Attorney General Jeff Sessions over the issue and told Trump she opposed the move because of potential harm to transgender students. Trump sided with Sessions, and DeVos eventually signed off on the issue rather than resign or publicly defy Trump, the sources say. In a tweet Wednesday evening, DeVos said she considers "protecting all students, including LGBTQ students, not only a key priority for the Department, but for every school in America." In other developments:

  • Jackie Evancho, the teenager who sang at Trump's inauguration, says she is disappointed by the move and would like Trump to meet with her and her transgender sister, the Washington Post reports.
  • Sean Spicer denied Wednesday that DeVos had opposed the policy, saying she was "100%" on board and there was "no daylight between anybody" in the administration, the AP reports.

  • Civil rights groups protested outside the White House Wednesday evening, warning that the decision to send the issue back to the states could increase bullying and violence against the estimated 150,000 young Americans who identify as transgender, NPR reports.
  • Openly gay Democratic National Committee leadership candidate Pete Buttigieg attacked the move during a debate Wednesday, the Hill reports. "What kind of a bully looks for the most vulnerable person they can find to attack?" he wondered, saying the decision would make life harder for "one of the most vulnerable parts of America’s population."
  • Vox takes a look at the background to what it calls "a fight about the next phase of the LGBTQ movement," noting that there is no evidence that allowing people to use the bathroom of the gender they identify with has led to any rise in sexual assaults.
  • CNET reports that Apple added its voice to those criticizing the decision Wednesday. "We support efforts toward greater acceptance, not less, and we strongly believe that transgender students should be treated as equals. We disagree with any effort to limit or rescind their rights and protection," the company said in a statement.
  • Conservative groups praised the move as an end to federal meddling in an issue they believe should be decided locally, the AP reports. "No longer will federal officials distort federal law that is meant to equalize educational opportunities for women, and no longer will they force local officials to intermingle boys and girls within private areas like locker rooms, showers, hotel rooms on school trips and restrooms," said a spokesman for the conservative legal group Alliance Defending Freedom.
  • The Charlotte Observer reports that the decision will make the fight to repeal North Carolina's controversial HB2 "bathroom bill" a lot tougher. Opponents no longer have the Justice Department as a partner, and a federal lawsuit against the bill is expected to be dismissed.
  • The White House says it made the decision now because of the pending Supreme Court case of Gavin Grimm, a transgender teen who wants to use the boys' bathroom at his Virginia high school. He was at the protest outside the White House Wednesday night, where he vowed, "We will not be beaten down by this administration," Reuters reports.
  • ACLU spokesman James Esseks issued a statement saying that the move does not undo legal protections for trans students, ABC reports. "School districts that recognize that should continue doing the right thing; for the rest, we’ll see them in court," he said.
(Read more transgender stories.)

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