Civil Rights: the rights that every person should have regardless of his or her sex, race, or religion
Civil Rights: the rights of citizens to political and social freedom and equality.
Civil Rights: rights to personal liberty established by the 13th and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution and certain Congressional acts, especially as applied to an individual or a minority group.
Civil Rights: Personal rights acquired by an individual by being a citizen or resident, or automatic entitlements to certain freedoms conferred by law or custom. Certain civil rights (such as the right to equality, freedom, good governance, justice, and due process of law) are inalienable like human rights and natural rights, whereas others (such as the right to hold a public office) depend on one’s conduct and can be lost. Also called civil liberties.
By any definition, the civil rights of the LGBT community were trampled today. Last May, the Departments of Justice and Education issued a Joint Guidance to Help Schools Ensure the Civil Rights of Transgender Students that was sent to schools across the country, advising universities and K-12 institutions to allow trans students to use the bathroom, changing room, and locker room that most closely corresponds with their gender identity, rather than the sex they were assigned at birth. For some reason that is well beyond my comprehension, this has been the most controversial issue in the U.S. for the last 50 years, at least. Yesterday, Trump rescinded protections for transgender students that had allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity.
Admittedly, this is new territory for some, and there has been much confusion over how to protect the rights of all. But … would somebody please tell me why people have a problem with this? Let the kids, let adults, for that matter, go into whichever bathroom they feel most comfortable with! Why not make all public restrooms “unisex”? This, folks, is not rocket science! But it would seem that most states, particularly those south of the Mason-Dixon line, are appalled by the idea of equality for the LGBT community. Their excuse is that they fear males, posing as transgender women, would invade women’s restrooms for the sole purpose of assaulting women. Come on … seriously??? Assaults in public restrooms have been few and far between … you are much more likely to be assaulted in the mall parking lot than the restroom. Can we use a bit of common sense here?
What does this mean, and what is likely next? In the most general sense, what it means is the Trump regime does not believe that civil rights protections should include transgender people. According to Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “These young people already face incredible hurdles in their pursuit of education and acceptance. With a pen stroke, the Trump Administration effectively sanctions the bullying, ostracizing, and isolation of these children, putting their very lives in danger.”
But on the other hand, Chase Strangio, a staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), wrote on Tuesday:
“Rescinding the guidance does not change the rights of students under Title IX [the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education and activities]. Trans students are protected from discrimination by federal law and the administration can’t change that.”
So what did Trump hope to gain, and what has the LGBT community lost? Apparently the decision to rescind the guidance was the brainstorm of newly-minted, racist Attorney General Jeff Sessions, long-time foe of the LGBT community. Sessions was in a hurry to roll back the guidance because of two pending court cases that could have upheld the protections and pushed the government into further litigation. Interestingly, newly-minted Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, opposed the idea, but was told basically that she could either get on board, or resign. She chose the former and agreed to go along, although she remained uncomfortable with it.
What does this mean for the LGBT community as a whole, going forward? I have no magic eight-ball, but if I had to guess, I would say that states will have a somewhat easier time passing laws that enable discriminatory practices. Those laws can still be challenged in the courts, but with Mr. Sessions at the helm in the AG’s office, and with Trump able to fill between 1-3 Supreme Court positions in the next year or two, the outcome for civil rights justice remains uncertain. The one thing that is clear, however, is that we are unlikely to see the same push for equal rights for the LGBT community that we have seen for the past several years, and that may well lead to setbacks in civil rights as a whole.