Protecting transgender students

Fifteen Massachusetts community college presidents are asking U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to recommit to protecting the rights of transgender students.

In a recent open letter to DeVos, the presidents expressed concern over recent department actions and their potential threat to equal education access for all students. They outlined strides made in Massachusetts since 2011 in protecting transgender individuals’ rights, and juxtaposed them over recent efforts at the federal level to limit rights of transgender individuals in schools and on higher education campuses.

As examples, the presidents noted last year’s revoking of a previous Title IX guidance allowing transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms in alignment with their gender identity. They also cited a recent New York Times report that suggested that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is considering defining gender as “a person’s status as male or female based on immutable biological traits identifiable by or before birth,” in addition to what’s list on a person’s original birth certificate.

“We hope that you follow the lead of Massachusetts and take this opportunity to recommit to all students in the country by protecting the rights of transgender people,” the presidents wrote. “Now is not the time to turn our backs on our students – all who deserve our respect, our commitment to their safety, and our unbridled support.”

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
is editor of Community College Daily and serves as publications director for the American Association of Community Colleges.