The Trump administration has rescinded federal guidelines that provided crucial guidance for public schools to ensure the safety and well-being of transgender students. The guidelines had instructed schools to ensure that students have access to bathrooms that match their gender identities, receive equal treatment free of gender discrimination, and are able to pursue education in environments of safety and inclusion.
The announcement was made via a letter from the Attorney General and the Department of Education. The administration claims that the previous guidelines, which clarified that Title IX protections extend to gender identity and expression, were “confusing.” In fact, the previous guidelines provided important legal advice to help schools comply with existing Title IX case law.
The Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity condemns this action in the strongest terms possible. Rescinding protections for transgender children is a horrifying act of political scapegoating. It cruelly targets children and young people who are already among the most vulnerable groups in our schools. The 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey found 54% of transgender respondents were verbally harassed in K-12 school because of their gender identity, 24% were physically attacked, and 13% were sexually assaulted. For 17%, the mistreatment was so severe that they had to leave the school.1 Guidelines affirming the rights of transgender students do not remove all dangers these young people face, but they do make a clear statement to schools that they are expected to ensure all students have equal, safe access to education.
As LGBTQ Muslims, we are keenly aware of the homophobic and transphobic intentions of the Trump administration, and we will resist all attempts to advance such policies. In this moment, we also stand firm in our commitment to solidarity across affected communities. As LGBTQ Muslims, we know and understand intersectional oppression, because we experience it on a daily basis. Those in our community who are targeted by transphobia also may be targeted by anti-Muslim bigotry, anti-Black racism, xenophobia, anti-immigrant bias, homophobia, biphobia, and other oppressions based on different facets of their experiences and identities. We are keenly aware that our survival depends on uniting to resist oppression of all members of our community and the wider society in which we live.
We call upon our fellow Muslims and our allies within the LGBTQ movement, anti-racism movements, and faith-based communities to stand with us in opposition to this disgraceful targeting of vulnerable children and youth.
The Muslim Alliance for Sexual and Gender Diversity (MASGD) works to support, empower and connect LGBTQ Muslims. We seek to challenge root causes of oppression, including misogyny and xenophobia. We aim to increase the acceptance of gender and sexual diversity within Muslim communities, and to promote a progressive understanding of Islam that is centered on inclusion, justice, and equality. Connect with us at www.muslimalliance.org.