In the weeks after the Parkland school mass shooting that left 17 people dead, the Trump administration was highly criticized for doing nothing to protect students. As the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student survivors quickly became student activists, and heroes to the left, the NRA and President Trump knew they were losing ground.
So President Trump tasked Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to create a commission to study the epidemic of gun violence in schools and come up with recommendations to make schools safer.
Secretary DeVos took her time to get the Commission up and running.
Her first step was to appoint members to the Commission: just four Trump Cabinet Secretaries, with no Democrats, experts, or students.
That was a red flag.
The next red flag came when DeVos testified before Congress, and was forced to admit that her commission on gun violence would not study the role of guns in school shootings.
It continued to get worse.
This summer DeVos announced a plan to allow schools to use federal funds to buy guns.
And now, according to The New York Times, Secretary DeVos will use her school safety commission as a tool to rescind or roll back Obama-era guidelines designed to protect Black and other minority students from racially-motivated punishments – while suggesting they are responsible for a rise in school violence.
“The Trump administration is planning to roll back Obama-era policies aimed at ensuring that minority children are not unfairly disciplined, arguing that the efforts have eased up on punishment and contributed to rising violence in the nation’s schools,” The Times reports.
“The decision culminates a nearly yearlong effort begun by the Trump administration after the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.”
The Times notes that this was the plan almost from the start, when DeVos’ commission ignored the role of guns in school shootings, “and instead scrutinized the Obama administration’s school discipline policies, though none of the most high-profile school shootings were perpetrated by black students.”
The suspect in the Parkland massacre is white.
Documents from DeVos’ commission that were obtained by The Times “focus significantly on race and promote the idea that the [Obama-era led] federal crackdown on potentially discriminatory practices has made schools more dangerous.”
Federal data shows Black students are three times more likely to be punished, the Times notes.
Vox took a deeper dive. Among its findings, Black girls are suspended six times more than white girls, and Black boys are suspended three times more than white boys. That’s just for starters.
Rescinding guidelines on protecting Black and minority students from being punished more than their peers is yet another attack on minority students by Secretary DeVos.
One of DeVos’ first acts was to rescind Obama-era guidance protecting the civil rights of transgender students. She quickly told conservatives at a political conference the guidelines were a “huge overreach” by the Obama administration. Later, DeVos threw out complaints from transgender students, and later formalized policy to reject complaints filed by them.
She has rescinded guidance protecting students with disabilities and eliminated Dept. of Education documents on protecting them.
It’s not just minority students DeVos is targeting. Victims of sexual assault are on her list as well. DeVos has worked to expand protections for accused rapists and others accused of sexual misconduct, including assault and harassment.
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Florida One Step Closer to Banning Trans Girls From Sports With Bill Providing for ‘Reproductive Anatomy’ Examination
Florida House Republicans have passed legislation that bans transgender girls from participating in girl’s sports, and allows anyone to dispute a student’s gender, which would legally result in an examination of “student’s reproductive anatomy.”
“Athletic teams or sports designated for females, women, or girls may not be open to students of the male sex,” the legislation reads. The intent is to ban transgender girls or women on the “basis of students’ biological sex.”
The bill also says that if there is any “dispute” about a student athletes’ “biological sex,” it “shall be resolved by the student’s school or institution by requesting that the student provide a health examination and consent form or other statement signed by the student’s personal health care provider which must verify the student’s biological sex.”
“The health care provider may verify the student’s biological sex as part of a routine sports physical examination by relying only on one or more of the following: The student’s reproductive anatomy; The student’s genetic makeup; or The student’s normal endogenously produced testosterone levels.”
The legislation does not define “dispute,” who gets to file a dispute, or by what method a dispute should be filed or with what entity, or who has to pay for the exam. It leaves all that up to the State Board of Education.
In theory, a student who didn’t make the team and were to blame anyone who did could file a dispute and force that student athlete to have a genital examination.
House Republicans killed 18 proposed amendments, including one that would have removed the section providing for examination of a student’s reproductive anatomy.
The legislation, sponsored by Republican Rep.. Kaylee Tuck (photo) must now go to the Senate, which also has a 24-16 GOP majority. If it passes, 2024 Republican presidential hopeful, Governor Ron DeSantis, would have to sign it into law.
AZ Lawmakers Ban Teaching About ‘Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, or Gender Expression’ Without Parental Consent
Lawmakers in the Arizona House and Senate have passed legislation that bans teaching students anything about “sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression” without first getting signed permission from a parent.
That means teaching about, for example, artist and Renaissance man Leonardo da Vinci, astronaut Sally Ride, the founder of computer science, Alan Turing, or the late First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt – all of whom were LGBTQ – requires signed consent from a student’s parent.
In addition, sex education, should Republican Governor Doug Ducey sign SB 1456 into law, will also be banned until students reach fifth grade. After that, any teaching about “sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression,” requires “written consent from a student’s parent or guardian.”
The bill is so poorly written that a plain reading of it means that any teaching or discussion of sexual orientation requires advanced consent from the parent. Sexual orientation includes heterosexuality, which means that any teaching about, for example, heterosexual marriages.
The bill updates current law to read: “A public educational institution shall obtain signed, written consent from a student’s parent or guardian before…PROVIDING SEX EDUCATION INSTRUCTION OR INSTRUCTION REGARDING SEXUAL ORIENTATION, GENDER IDENTITY, OR GENDER EXPRESSION TO THE STUDENT. WHEN THE PUBLIC EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTION SEEKS CONSENT, IT SHALL AT THE SAME TIME INFORM THE STUDENT’S PARENT OR GUARDIAN OF THE PARENT OR GUARDIAN’S RIGHT TO REVIEW THE INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS AND ACTIVITIES.”
Also requiring written consent: any teaching about HIV/AIDS.
The ACLU says the legislation stigmatizes LGBTQ students:
Two years ago, we hoped that the Arizona Legislature was taking a step away from bigoted measures like Arizona’s “No Promo Homo” law that harmed and stigmatized LGBTQ students.
We were sadly mistaken. pic.twitter.com/j3r2xkEeqc
— ACLU of Arizona (@ACLUaz) April 14, 2021
The bill may be unconstitutional, and likely violates Biden administration policy, meaning the Dept. of Education could sue the state and withhold education funding.
This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change.
Image: Eleanor Roosevelt holding poster of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (in English), Lake Success, New York. November 1949. Photo by FDR Presidential Library & Museum via Flickr and a CC license
Arkansas Republicans Override Governor’s Veto of Bill Banning Medical Treatment for Transgender Youth
Republicans in the Arkansas legislature wasted no time on Tuesday, overriding Governor Asa Hutchinson’s veto of a bill that will now ban medical treatment for transgender youth and teens. On Monday, after signing two anti-LGBTQ bills into law in recent weeks, the Arkansas Republican governor vetoed HB 1570, calling it “off-course,” and not “necessary and defensible.”
Less than 24 hours later Republicans overrode the veto, the AP reports. A simple majority is all that was required.
The ACLU, which has called the bill “one of the most extreme and harmful anti-trans bills in the country,” immediately promised to sue.
BREAKING: The Arkansas legislature overrode Governor Hutchinson’s veto on HB 1570, a bill that would ban health care for trans youth.
We are preparing litigation as we speak.
— ACLU (@ACLU) April 6, 2021
HB 1570, the mis-named “Save Adolescents From Experimentation (SAFE) Act,” according to ACLU analysis, “would prohibit healthcare professionals from providing or even referring transgender young people for medically necessary health care.”
“It would bar any state funds for gender-affirming health care for transgender people under 18, and it would allow private insurers to refuse to cover gender-affirming care for people of any age.”
“Doctors who provide medically necessary care to trans youth would risk losing their licenses and be subject to lawsuits by individuals and the state,” the ACLU has said.
Doctors informed Arkansas lawmakers they would each be receiving a call when trans kids were hurt or died as a result of HB1570. Today the Arkansas House has voted to override Gov. Hutchinson’s veto anyway. Such a painful disgrace. Senate vote to come.
— Chase Strangio (@chasestrangio) April 6, 2021
The House bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Robin Lundstrum, the Senate bill was sponsored by Republican Senator Alan Clark (photo).
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