Franken Leads Fight for Transgender Rights in Education

Amid the transgender bathroom controversy and battles over religious freedom and forms of discrimination, Senators Al Franken (Minnesota) and Tammy Baldwin (Wisconsin) led a coalition of 40 Senate Democrats (including Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota) in writing a letter to the  Department of Education, requesting the department “release comprehensive non-discrimination guidelines to better protect transgender students in middle school, high school, and in college.”

In the letter the Senators argue that LGBT students are the victims of legislative assaults at the state level, citing the recently enacted House Bill 2 in North Carolina as a prime example, which requires individuals use the locker room and bathroom that matches their birth gender, rather than the gender they identify with. The senators note that the federal level has done well at protecting LGBT rights, but must continue this fight.

Speaking to the illegality of discrimination, the senators argue that schools are subject to Title IX regulations.  Title IX prohibits discrimination “on the basis of sex in any educational program or activity that receives federal funding.” According to the letter,  the Department of Justice (DOJ) [and Department of Education] have clarified that Title IX’s prohibition on sex discrimination prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity. Controversy remains as to whether or not requiring individuals to utilize the restroom or locker room that matches their birth sex qualifies as discrimination.

The senators concluded their letter to Secretary of the Department of Education, John King with the following statement:

“We strongly believe that it is our responsibility—not just as senators, but as adults—to protect our children and young people, and to help them flourish. We applaud and thank the Department of Education, as well as the Department of Justice, for sharing that goal, and for their commitment to equality and work in support of LGBT students. We respectfully request that the Department complete that work by issuing clear, comprehensive guidance.”

Alpha News reported that Governor Dayton has publicly stated that he would veto any measures similar to the one passed in North Carolina, calling them “antithetical to our values.” Now that Franken and Klobuchar have joined Dayton in addressing issues pertaining to LGBT rights, its clear where 3 of the state’s top elected officials stand on the issue.

Issues pertaining to LGBT rights, religious freedom, privacy, and safety will likely continue to be a key issue often discussed in the public political discourse.  To stay up to date on initiatives being pushed by Senators Franken and Klobuchar, subscribe to Alpha News.