Department of Education Admits to Rejecting Civil Rights Complaints From Trans Students

Today, HRC responded to a shocking admission by the Department of Education regarding their refusal to respond to civil rights complaints filed by transgender students who are barred from using bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity.

“While civil rights advocates have suspected that the Department of Education was not acting on complaints brought forward by transgender students, reports that these violations are completely being ignored are reprehensible,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “The department’s failure to act conflicts with the law in multiple jurisdictions, including federal circuits, and further emboldens those who seek to discriminate against transgender students. Once again, Secretary DeVos proves she is not interested in protecting transgender students and instead is choosing to advance the dangerous Trump-Pence anti-LGBTQ agenda.”

Federal appeals courts in the 6th and 7th Circuits have ruled that transgender students are indeed covered under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1974. Additional federal circuit courts have ruled that analogous federal civil rights statutes which prohibit sex discrimination also prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender identity. These rulings mean that the Department of Education is responsible for enforcing these decisions and accepting complaints that allege civil rights violations.

Just last week more than 700 parents of transgender children signed an HRC letter to Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos condemning her failure to protect transgender students and calling on her to recognize the basic human and civil rights of transgender young people in our nation’s schools. Also last week, Secretary DeVos complained about being criticized for not upholding the rights of students.

Since the beginning of the Trump-Pence administration, the Department of Education, under the leadership of Secretary DeVos, has worked to undermine the protections and enforcement of our nation’s civil rights laws. These actions, from withdrawing important guidance that clarified schools’ obligations to protect transgender students from discrimination under Title IX to rescinding Obama-era Title IX guidance related to schools’ obligations to address sexual harassment and sexual violence, disproportionately impact LGBTQ people.

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A Moral Imperative

The CDC’s landmark report on the rate of HIV infections for Black and Hispanic people put into sharp focus the barriers for LGBTQ communities of color in accessing reliable health care. Though Black communities make up only 14 percent of the population, the 2016 report said, they account for an alarming 44 percent of all new HIV infections. If current trends continue, half of all Black gay and bisexual men in the United States will be diagnosed with HIV in their lifetime.

As HRC Foundation marks the 18th year of National Black HIV & AIDS Awareness Day this February and re-commits to help end the HIV epidemic and its disproportionate impact on communities of color, we must also look beyond these grim statistics and focus on the individuals and groups leading the fight against HIV and AIDS.

Among them is Darwin Thompson, executive director of NAESM, Inc., an Atlanta-based nonprofit that works to provide national and local leadership to address the myriad of health and wellness issues confronted by Black LGBTQ men.

For Thompson, empowering his clients through advo- cacy, services and education is a fundamental aspect to overcoming the HIV epidemic in his community and throughout the United States.                        

“All individuals want to feel valued,” said Thompson, “and I think that we look at Black gay men as just their HIV status. We don’t understand they bring a lot more to the table.” This point hits close to home for Thompson, whose biological mother was HIV-positive, putting Thompson in the target group for contracting the disease.

In an effort to change the conversation around HIV and Black communities, Thompson and NAESM collaborated with HRC in January to host the Moral Imperative, a symposium to strengthen Historically Black Colleges and Universities’ ability to provide leadership in the ght for an HIV- and AIDS-free generation. “This collaboration with NAESM and HBCUs affirms HRC’s commitment to work with our partners and allies to end HIV and HIV-related stigma in the United States,” said Peter Cruz, associate director of HRC Foundation’s HIV and Health Equity Program. “We all must act together — in our neighborhoods, in our schools and in our homes — to truly end the devastating impact of HIV and AIDS, particularly on our most vulnerable communities.”

Part of this action is to engage in what Thompson calls “holistic prevention” — to treat and prevent not just the disease, but also recognize the larger inequalities faced by Black LGBTQ men and lead to crisis in their communities.

“Whether we are dealing with family trauma or their high blood pressure or other things, it’s important to ensure that we are targeting a holistic prevention for Black gay men,” said Thompson.

For Thompson, fundamental to this holistic approach is tackling the stigma that surrounds HIV and the Black LGBTQ community to ensure that Black men feel empowered to seek the treatment and health services they deserve. This is why outreach to HBCUs is so important.

“I’m hopeful that in my lifetime HIV will be a disease of the past,” said Leslie Hall, who manages HRC Foundation’s HBCU Program. “I’m committed to raising awareness about HIV and encouraging young people on colleges and universities across the country — especially HBCUs — to take advantage of Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) and other proven prevention strategies. I know we will prevail.”

Thompson agrees. “It’s about giving HBCUs the tools necessary to find the dialogue but also fight and eradicate HIV and other STI related diseases.”

But even those of us who are not enrolled in an HBCU can be part of the solution. Getting tested for HIV and sexually transmitted infections, and encouraging those close to us to do the same, is one small way we can all make a difference, Thompson believes.

“We have the right tools, right leadership in place to end the epidemic right now.

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37 News Articles Trump and Pence Don’t Want You to See

Next week, Donald Trump will issue his own Fake News Awards, going to the “most corrupt & biased of the Mainstream Media.”

Ahead of Trump’s stunt attacking the press this week, HRC is sharing 37 stories Donald Trump probably hopes you’ve missed from 2017 — the stories that outline his disastrous, dangerous first year.

Why 37 you ask? Because it aligns perfectly with his record-low 37 percent approval rating.

1. Washington Post: After Trump bans words including ‘transgender’ at CDC, gay rights activists predict consequences for GOP

“Vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.” The Trump administration banned these words from multiple divisions of the Department of Health and Human Services’ budget documents, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

DESPICABLE: The Trump-Pence administration is prohibiting the CDC from using a list of seven words or phrases — including “transgender.”

— HumanRightsCampaign (@HRC) December 16, 2017

2. NBC News: 15 Attorneys General Oppose Trump Transgender Military Ban

The group, led by Massachusetts AG Maura Healey, filed a brief in federal court in support of transgender service members. The brief argues “that banning transgender individuals from the military is unconstitutional, against the interest of national defense and harms the transgender community.”

3. Wall Street Journal: Top General’s View of Transgender Troops Is at Odds With Trump’s

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee he believes “that any individual who meets the physical and mental standards… should be afforded the opportunity to continue to serve.”

4. The Hill: Mattis appalled by Trump tweets announcing transgender ban: report

Defense Secretary “Mattis, who was on vacation at the time of Trump’s decision, only had one day’s worth of notice before Trump tweeted his announcement of the policy.”

5. Huffington Post: White House: States Should Get To Decide Whether To Discriminate Against LGBTQ Students

During a press conference, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer invoked “states’ rights” when questioned about whether the guidance on transgender students would be revoked. (Spoiler alert: It was revoked).

6. CNN: Tensions escalate after Tillerson calls Trump ‘moron’

An NBC News report in October found that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson called Trump a “moron” in a Pentagon meeting.

7. Washington Times: President Trump cancels sexual orientation questions on 2020 Census

The Census Bureau issued an alarming corrective statement, asserting it had  “inadvertently listed sexual orientation and gender identity as a proposed topic in the appendix” of a bureau report. The correction suggests that plans for data collection for the 2020 census had included LGBTQ people, but the Trump administration has removed them.

8. CNN: Proposed budget cuts for 2017 include AIDS, AmeriCorps programs

The proposed budget cut $292 million from the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR.

9. USA Today: Trump’s Army secretary nominee withdraws over gay comments

Army Secretary Mark Green removed himself from consideration after HRC worked diligently to expose Mark Green’s shameful anti-LGBTQ record and rhetoric.

#BREAKING Army secretary nominee withdraws over gay comments

— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) May 5, 2017

10. BuzzFeed: Why Didn’t Trump Mention Pride Month? We Asked 30 Times.

The Trump-Pence administration refused to acknowledge Pride Month, which previous presidents have embraced.

Why didn’t Trump mention Pride Month? We asked 30 times.

— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) July 3, 2017

11. New York Times: Justice Department Says Rights Law Doesn’t Protect Gays

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions filed a brief seeking to undermine a growing legal consensus that LGBTQ  people are protected from discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

12. Politifact: Donald Trump had biggest inaugural crowd ever? Metrics don’t show it

Liar. Liar. Sean Spicer’s pants are on fire.

Trump had biggest inaugural crowd ever? Metrics say no

— PolitiFact (@PolitiFact) January 22, 2017

13. Senate panel dumps Trump nominee Scott Garrett

The Senate Banking Committee rejected Scott Garrett’s nomination on a bipartisan vote of 10-13.

Senate panel dumps Trump nominee Scott Garrett

— (@njdotcom) December 19, 2017

14. Huffington Post: Trump Judicial Nominee Drops Out After Embarrassing Hearing

Matthew Petersen dropped out after a video of him failing to answer basic law questions went viral.

Trump judicial nominee drops out after embarrassing hearing via @HuffPostPol

— Sherrilyn Ifill (@Sifill_LDF) December 18, 2017

15. New York Times Editorial: Mr. Trump’s Paper Towels Aren’t Helping Puerto Rico


16. ThinkProgress: Meet the 8 transgender candidates who won elections on Tuesday

In an incredible turnout of pro-equality voters, Americans across the country elected at

least eight out transgender people to office in November.

17. NBC: Obamacare Repeal Fails: Three GOP Senators Rebel in 49-51 Vote

The Trump-Pence-McConnell plan would have caused insurance premiums to drastically rise and leave millions of Americans uninsured, with a particularly devastating impact on low-income senior citizens, women, children, LGBTQ people and people living with HIV.

BREAKING: Republicans fail to pass a “skinny” Obamacare repeal bill

— MSNBC (@MSNBC) July 28, 2017

18. The Atlantic: Trump Defends White-Nationalist Protesters: ‘Some Very Fine People on Both Sides’

Trump proved once again that he stands with “alt-right” racists and anti-Semites.

Trump defends white nationalist protesters, says they include “some very fine people.”

— Rosie Gray (@RosieGray) August 15, 2017

19. The New Yorker: Trump Abandons the Human-Rights Agenda

Just months into his presidency, it was clear that Trump was abandoning America’s long-standing legacy of defending and promoting human rights around the globe.

20. CNN: Women detail sexual allegations against Trump

Several woman publicly accused Trump of sexual harassment and assault.

21. US News: Trump Administration Rescinds Obama-Era Campus Sexual Assault Guidance

Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos rescinded Obama-era Title IX guidance related to schools’ obligations to address sexual harassment, including sexual violence–a move that will disproportionately impact LGBTQ people.

22. New York Times: Suburbs Rebel Against Trump, Threatening Republicans in Congress

Victories on Election Day 2017 spell trouble for Republicans.

23. Los Angeles Times: Military poised to accept transgender troops, despite Trump tweets, as courts block ban

Qualified transgender people who want to serve their country in the military were finally allowed to sign up openly after the Department of Justice decided not to appeal federal court rulings blocking Trump’s discriminatory transgender military ban.

Military poised to accept transgender troops, despite Trump tweets, as courts block ban

— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) December 26, 2017

24. CNN Analysis: Trump’s Russia defense in disarray

“President Donald Trump’s legal defense against Robert Mueller’s unrelenting special counsel investigation is beginning to look as chaotic as his early days in the White House.”

25. The Hill: Trump watches up to eight hours of TV per day: report

Who needs eight hours of work when you can watch eight hours of TV instead?

26. NBC: Trump’s Presidency Is Bad for Business — His Own

Trump’s presidency isn’t working out too well for his businesses around the globe.

27. Washington Post: Trump celebrates solar eclipse by looking up without special viewing glasses


28. New York Times: Trump Attacks Warriors’ Curry. LeBron James’s Retort: ‘U Bum.’

Trump used the power of his office to advocate for the suppression of voices of those fighting systemic racial injustice and inequality.

29. NBC: Manafort Notes From Russian Meet Refer to Political Contributions

“Paul Manafort’s notes from a controversial Trump Tower meeting with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign included a mention of political contributions near a reference to the Republican National Committee.”

30. NPR: The ‘Missed Opportunity’ Of Trump’s Asia Trip

According to David Shambaugh, a professor of political science and international affairs at the Elliott School at George Washington University, “”It was all fluff.”

31. CNN: Trump nominee Sam Clovis: ‘As far as we know’ homosexuality’s a choice, ‘logical’ LGBT protections could lead to legalization of pedophilia

Sam Clovis withdrew from consideration to serve as chief scientist for the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Sam Clovis’ anti-#LGBTQ attacks should disqualify him from serving in any position within the federal government.

— HumanRightsCampaign (@HRC) August 21, 2017

32. New York Times: Republican Shadow Campaign for 2020 Takes Shape as Trump Doubts Grow

“In interviews with more than 75 Republicans at every level of the party, elected officials, donors and strategists expressed widespread uncertainty about whether Mr. Trump would be on the ballot in 2020 and little doubt that others in the party are engaged in barely veiled contingency planning.”

33. Washington Post: Three former Trump campaign officials charged by special counsel

Rick Gates. Paul Manafort. George Papadopoulos. Remember those names.

34. CNN: Trump says he considered ‘this Russia thing’ before firing FBI Director Comey

“The president’s interview with Lester Holt exposed White House obfuscation, unethical interactions with James Comey, and circumstantial evidence that the FBI director’s termination was improper.”

35. The Atlantic: Donald Trump’s Own Words Become ‘Exhibit A’ Against Him

Trump shared in detail about the process of firing FBI Director James Comey in an interview with NBC.

Donald Trump’s own words are ‘Exhibit A’ against him, writes @conor64

— TheAtlanticPolitics (@TheAtlPolitics) May 12, 2017

36. Texas Tribune: Report: Trump’s judicial nominee from Texas called transgender kids part of “Satan’s plan”

Jeff Mateer objected to a transgender student using a restroom consistent with her gender identity, saying “I mean it just really shows you how Satan’s plan is working and the destruction that’s going on.”

37. Vox: The political lesson of 2017: resistance works

Despite the Trump-Pence’s administration hateful and bigoted policies, we mobilized against their discriminatory agenda to ensure full equality and justice is achieved for everyone, everywhere.

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