House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) held firm to her commitment to civil rights for transgender kids Friday under questioning from a hostile reporter who asked about students accessing bathrooms, sports and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.
During a weekly news conference where Pelosi gave updates on whether Congress would reach a deal on coronavirus relief, a reporter from the Christian News Service asked: “Joe Biden says he’ll give transgender students access to sports, bathrooms, and locker rooms in accordance to their gender identity in all federally-funded schools. Does he have the power to unilaterally do this and do you agree?”
Pelosi was succinct in her response and said, “Yes and I think he does.”
Such guidance would be similar to the guidance issued during the final year of the Obama administration assuring transgender students access to schools facilities consistent with their gender identity, including bathrooms, under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Within months after President Trump took office, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and former U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rescinded that guidance under pressure states objecting to the measure.
Despite the Trump administration’s change, administration of Title IX to allow transgender students access to bathrooms, sports and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity is now required regardless of whether or not Biden issues guidance. This year, the U.S. Supreme Court decided in the case of Bostock v. Clayton County anti-transgender discrimination is a form of sex discrimination. Although the case was about employment, it has broad applications and would cover schools under Title IX.
Biden, in the comprehensive LGBTQ plan his issued during his presidential campaign, pledged on his first day in office to reinstate the Obama guidance for transgender students revoked by the Trump administration. As recently as the day of the exchange between the reporter and Pelosi, Biden promised at the International LGBTQ Leaders Conference “the most pro-equality administration in history.”
Gillian Branstetter, a transgender advocate and spokesperson for the National Women’s Law Center, said Pelosi is “absolutely right” and called on the upcoming Biden administration to reinstate the guidance.
“The Supreme Court was abundantly clear when it found sex discrimination laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex, exactly as Title IX does,” Branstetter said. “And given the crisis of harassment, violence, and rejection faced by trans youth, supporting schools in their effort to keep trans kids safe is essential as both a legal and moral matter.”
Pelosi held firm to transgender rights hours before she appeared virtually at the International LGBTQ Leaders Conference to accept the LGBTQ History Maker Award.