Saturday, March 11, 2017

Left the question unanswered

Gavin Grimm is a transgender boy who sued his Virginia high school for access to the boy’s bathroom. The case has already been through the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. That court looked at the Obama guidance on the treatment of transgender students and sided with Grimm. The school appealed to the Supremes with a primary question before the court: Does Title IX and its prohibitions on discrimination on the basis of sex apply to transgender students?

Rulings related to Title IX appear to indicate that it does apply to transgender students. These rulings include such things as protecting women who don’t look “feminine enough.” The Obama guidance pulled all this together to present to schools, partly as a way to help them avoid Title IX lawsuits.

The Supremes accepted the case and scheduled oral arguments for March 28. LGBT rights organizations, including Equality Michigan, scheduled rallies for that date. The EQMI rally will be at the Capitol.

But on Monday the Supremes changed their minds. They canceled their hearings and sent the case back to the Fourth Circuit along with the instruction that while their reasoning was based on the Obama guidance the nasty guy has since rescinded that guidance. Do it over.

This is a quick consequence of the nasty guy’s actions.

The question about whether Title IX protects transgender students remains unanswered, at least for now. There is another such case coming to the Supremes soon. But transgender activists are concerned whether a window might be closing as the nasty guy nominates justices to the Supremes and other courts.

Within three days of the nasty guy’s rescinding of the Obama guidance a Title IX panel discussion was held at the Affirmations LGBT Center in Ferndale. They reviewed the Obama guidance and the legal cases that inform it. All this is a reminder that Title IX is still in effect – the nasty guy can’t rescind that. Of course, there still needs to be an ultimate ruling on whether Title IX applies to transgender people, on which the Supremes just punted. At least until then schools can be sued for violating Title IX.

The Michigan State Board of Education issued its own guidance last September, a bit before Obama did. This isn’t affected by what the nasty guy did and, for now, can’t be rescinded. The state Board of Education has four Dems and four GOP and needs five votes to do anything. Things can’t get worse, but can’t get better.

The rally at the Capitol on March 28 is still a go. Want to join me?

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