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Parents of Trans Kids Take Trump to Task

Sessions and Trump

Hundreds of parents are denouncing Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions for backing away from defending the rights of transgender students.

Hundreds of parents of transgender children have signed on to a letter to President Trump, objecting to his administration's recent action regarding the rights of trans students.

The action came in an ongoing lawsuit over guidance issued last year by President Obama's administration on equal treatment of transgender students. A federal judge had blocked the guidelines nationwide, but the Obama administration had asked that they be blocked only in the roughly dozen states that brought the suit. The Department of Justice, led by new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, withdrew that request last Friday.

"As parents of transgender children, we were heartbroken and scared when we learned that your Administration's Department of Justice had dropped its objections to a nationwide hold on Obama era protections for transgender students," the letter begins. "You promised to be a president for all Americans, but less than 48 hours after Jeff Sessions was confirmed as Attorney General, the Department of Justice took a concrete step to undermine equality for the LGBTQ community."

The guidelines recommend that students be addressed by their preferred names and pronouns, and that trans students have access to the restrooms and other single-sex facilities that correspond with their gender identity. They are nonbinding, but the Obama administration had warned that schools not adopting them could be found in violation of federal law against sex discrimination in education -- Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Obama's Justice and Education departments had held that discrimination based on gender identity falls under the definition of sex discrimination.

The letter, released Tuesday night, is a project of the Human Rights Campaign and its new Parents for Transgender Equality Council.

"Just 48 hours after the confirmation of his anti-equality attorney general, Donald Trump's administration directly attacked LGBTQ equality and took aim at the rights of transgender youth," said HRC President Chad Griffin in a prepared statement. "This disgraceful action exposes transgender students to harassment and discrimination and emboldens bullies from classrooms to state legislatures. These 781 courageous parents are asking that the federal government protect their children at school, something that all families deserve. We stand with these parents and urge President Trump and Attorney General Sessions to listen to families across the country demanding basic fairness and respect for every child."

The letter notes high rates of bullying and suicide attempts among transgender youth, and that medical and mental health groups such as the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Psychological Association have held that "affirming our children's gender identities is imperative." It also mentions the Boy Scouts of America's recent decision to admit transgender boys.

"We could not be prouder of our children," the letter continues. "They have shown our families and the world a courage and authenticity that has filled our hearts and opened our minds. Their lives enrich our homes, our schools, and our neighborhoods."

"Like all parents, all we want is for our children to be healthy, safe, and loved," it concludes. "No young person should wake up in the morning fearful of the school day ahead. When this guidance was issued last year, it provided our families -- and other families like our own across the country -- with the knowledge and security that our government was determined to protect our children from bullying and discrimination. Please do not take that away from us. We ask you to preserve the guidance and instruct the Departments of Justice and Education to robustly pursue every opportunity to enforce Title IX on behalf of transgender students."

In a separate case, the U.S. Supreme Court next month will hear from Gavin Grimm, a transgender boy from Virginia, whose access to the boys' restrooms at his high school was revoked by the school board. After Grimm sued over the policy, a federal appeals court found in his favor, but the Gloucester County School District has appealed to the Supreme Court. The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Grimm, has released a new video featuring Grimm and his mother, Deirdre Grimm, reflecting on the court battle. Watch below.

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