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Betsy DeVos Quietly Changes Education Dept’s Official Policy on Discrimination Against Transgender Students

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Change Made Secretly With No Public Statement or Opportunity for Public Comment

The U.S. Dept. of Education has now formalized its policy on complaints from transgender students barred from restrooms that correspond with their gender identity: reject them. 

Betsy DeVos Dept. of Education “has told BuzzFeed News it won’t investigate or take action on any complaints filed by transgender students who are banned from restrooms that match their gender identity,” Dominic Holden of Buzzfeed News reports. “It’s the first time officials have asserted this position as a formal interpretation of law. No public announcement has been made.”

Education Dept. spokesperson Liz Hill told Buzzfeed, “yes, that’s what the law says,” when Buzzfeed asked if it is the department’s position that complaints on restroom use from transgender students are not covered by federal civil rights law, specifically Title IX.

“Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity,” Hill added.

Federal courts have ruled otherwise, stating that discrimination against transgender students is sex discrimination and thus covered under the 1972 federal law.

“Until now, the official position of the Department has been that Title IX protects all students and that they were evaluating how that protection applies to the issue of bathroom access,” Obama-era Education Department head of the Office for Civil Rights, Catherine Lhamon, told BuzzFeed News via email. “This new categorical bar of civil rights protection for transgender children required to attend schools every day ignores the text of the law, courts’ interpretation of the law, the stated position of the Department to date, and human decency.”

One of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ first acts was to rescind the Obama-era guidance helping public schools protect the civil rights of transgender students. Days later she called the guidance “a very huge example of Obama administration overreach.”

DeVos then went on to ignore the racism and segregation that led to the establishment of America’s historically Black colleges and universities, calling HBCUs “real pioneers when it comes to school choice.”

Last May DeVos suggested she did not oppose anti-LGBT discrimination, noting “school choice” resolves the issue by giving parents and students options to go to schools that don’t discriminate. Weeks later she told the U.S. Senate she would not work to prevent or prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ students.

In June DeVos’ Civil Rights Office closed cases from transgender students, and scaled back investigations into anti-transgender discrimination. 

Four months later DeVos quietly eliminated 72 documents on civil rights protections for students with disabilities. Also in October DeVos scrapped an Obama-era rule set to go into effect that would protect minority students from being placed disproportionally in classes for students with special needs.

Image by U.S. Dept. of Education via Flickr and a CC license

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

Texas Educators Want to Change ‘Slavery’ to ‘Involuntary Relocation’ After GOP Bans Topics Making Students ‘Feel Discomfort’

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An advisory group of Texas educators has proposed changing the word “slavery” to “involuntary relocation” after the Texas State Board of Education directed them to examine how to implement a new law, signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, banning the teaching of topics that would make students “feel discomfort.”

The group, comprised of nine educators, made the proposal for second-grade social studies instruction, but “board members have asked them to reconsider the phrasing, according to the state board’s chair,” The Texas Tribune reports.

State Board of Education Member Aicha Davis told the Tribune, that calling slavery “involuntary relocation” is “not going to be acceptable.”

“Part of the proposed social studies curriculum standards outlines that students should ‘compare journeys to America, including voluntary Irish immigration and involuntary relocation of African people during colonial times,'” the Tribune notes.

Last year in September Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law SB3, which “prohibits teaching certain concepts about race,” The Dallas Morning News reported at the time.

It also “develops a civics training program for teachers,” and “urges educators to teach only that slavery and racism are ‘deviations’ from the founding principles of the United States.”

RELATED: ‘Ghoulish’ Greg Abbott Slammed as a ‘Monster’ for ‘Inhumane’ Response to Deaths of 50 People Locked in Tractor-Trailer

SB3 “establishes that teachers can’t be forced to discuss current controversial topics in their classrooms,” The Washington Post reported last year.

Attorney Imani Gandy, a Senior Editor of Law and Policy for Rewire News Group, responded to the news via Twitter.

This was always the point of the CRT hysteria— to teach white children that slavery was just ‘involuntary relocation’ so they don’t feel bad about what their ancestors did to Black people in this country,” she said. “Classic fascist move.”

 

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RIGHT WING EXTREMISM

‘QAnon Justice’: Clarence Thomas Under Fire as He Suggests COVID Vaccines Are Derived From Cells of ‘Aborted Children’

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In a dissenting opinion published Friday the nation’s far-right Supreme Court Justice, Clarence Thomas, falsely claims that every COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S. was “developed using cell lines derived from aborted children.”

As Politico reports, this is not accurate.

Thomas dissented in the Court’s decision to not take up a religious right case filed against New York State’s order requiring all health care workers to be vaccinated against the deadly coronavirus that to date has killed well over one million Americans.

“They object on religious grounds to all available COVID–19 vaccines because they were developed using cell lines derived from aborted children,” Justice Thomas wrote.

No Covid vaccines in the U.S. contain the cells of aborted fetuses,” Politico states. NBC News calls Justice Thomas’ assertion a “debunked claim.”

“Cells obtained from elective abortions decades ago were used in testing during the Covid vaccine development process, a practice that is common in vaccine testing,” Politico notes. There is no human embryonic material in COVID vaccines.

“Justice Thomas has already proven that he is unfit to serve as a Supreme Court Justice,” said U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky on Twitter. “Spreading false information about a lifesaving vaccine is further evidence that he must either resign or be removed.”

Veteran journalist Katie Couric tweeted simply, “This man needs help.”

“The cells are grown in a laboratory and were derived from a few elective abortions performed more than three decades ago,” National Geographic wrote last year in response to the rise in attempts to obtain religious exemptions to the COVID vaccines. “These same cell lines are also used to test and advance our understanding of several routine drugs, including acetaminophen, ibuprofen, and aspirin, and they continue to be used for treatment research in diseases such as Alzheimer’s and hypertension.”

Daily Beast columnist Wajahat Ali accused Justice Thomas of being “a QAnon Supreme Court Justice.”

Justices Samuel Alito and Neil Gorsuch, both conservatives, joined Justice Thomas’ dissent.

 

 

 

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RELIGIOUS EXTREMISM

Religious-Right Attorney Says Companies Offering to Provide Abortion Assistance Are Paying to ‘Kill Your Children’

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In the wake of the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade and reversing 50 years of precedent by eliminating the constitutional right to abortion, dozens of companies announced that they could provide coverage or reimbursements to employees who may now need to travel out of state to obtain an abortion.

Appearing on VCY America’s “Crosstalk” program Tuesday, religious-right legal activist Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel likened those companies to those who cooperated with the Nazis in Germany during World War II and accused them of treating their employees like “slave labor.”

“These employers say they will give money to the mothers in order for the mothers to kill their children so you won’t miss any time off from work rather than give you time off from work, which is what’s required by federal law,” Staver said. “They don’t want to give you the time to be a mother. They don’t want you to be away from the place of work. They would rather kill your children—pay you to do so—so you could jump back into the workplace and you can go through their eight-hour day or however long they’re going put you at the at the wheel so that they can make a profit.”

“That’s the despicable nature of what’s happening,” he continued. “Women and others across the country ought to just really cry out and say, ‘You despicable companies!  You’re paying to kill the children of these mothers so that you can continue their slave labor and continue your profits off of them.”

“These companies and the states that go down this road, they will not be blessed,” Staver warned. “They will ultimately be complicit with the shedding of innocent blood, and we’ll look back on those companies just like we look back on some of the things that happened during Nazi Germany and say, ‘Shame on you. How in the world did this ever happen?’”

This article was originally published by Right Wing Watch and is republished here by permission.

 

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