During an interview with Tumblr CEO David Karp yesterday, President Obama made some of his first comments on an April ruling by the U.S. Department of Education extending protections afforded by Title IX of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to transgender students, and appeared to give support to the move.
"So one question we heard a lot from our community that I wanted to make sure to mention today," Karp began. "Recently — I think you’ve been following — the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights and [Department of Justice] have extended Title IX protections to trans students. What do you see as the next steps to ensure equal treatment of trans people in schools in America?"
"Title IX is a very powerful tool," Obama responded after some brief background on the law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational institutions. "The fact that we are applying it to transgender students means that they are going to be in a position to assert their rights if and when they see that they are being discriminated on their college campuses. And that could manifest itself in a whole variety of ways."
This response marks one of the first times President Obama has directly addressed Title IX's impact on trans students, and more importantly, adds his voice in explicit support of the trans-inclusive decisions recently made by his administration's Deparment of Education to protect the rights of transgender students nationwide.
Given that upward of 80 percent of transgender students report experiencing harassment at school as a result of their gender identity, codifying protections against discrimination into law establishes a foundation from which activists for trans student rights can build.