Protests follow White House decision on transgender restroom use

ByABC News
February 22, 2017, 10:19 PM

— -- After the Trump administration issued its decision Wednesday evening to rescind guidance allowing transgender students to use school restrooms that align with their gender identity, a protest against the action was held just outside the White House and a number of lawmakers and other high-profile Americans spoke out.

The decision says that the Obama administration guidance caused legal confusion and sparked lawsuits and said the matter should be determined by the states instead. But it did not affect other safeguards against harassment and bullying.

Gavin Grimm, a transgender teenager who sued the Gloucester County, Virginia school board in 2015 to use the male bathroom at his school -- a case that will be heard by the Supreme Court in March -- spoke to the gathering in Washington, saying his story "is the story of many young people around the nation."

"I struggled to come to terms with who I am and who I’m meant to be," said Grimm. "But unlike many young people, my local school board stepped in to complicate my ability to be myself and to enjoy the same rights as my peers."

"I’ve faced my share of adversaries in rural Virginia, but I never imagined that my government would be one of them," he added, referencing the night's news.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization that advocates for the LGBTQ community, also spoke at the gathering, calling Trump a "bully" and delivering a message to the country's transgender youth: "You are valued, you are important and you are loved."

The Human Rights Campaign later released a statement, classifying the White House's action as "a blind and cruel attack on young children."

"These transgender students simply want to go to school in the morning without fear of discrimination or harassment," reads the statement. "The policies included in the rescinded guidance have existed in cities, states, and school districts... for years, seamlessly and successfully affirming and welcoming transgender students in thousands of classrooms throughout the country."

On Twitter, both the Senate and House Minority Leaders, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, and Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-California, issued messages in opposition to the move.

"Trump admin decision to roll back protections for transgender Americans is just plain wrong & cuts directly across the drive for equality," wrote Schumer.

"Civil rights are not confusing. No student should face discrimination because of who they are. #ProtectTransKids," added Pelosi.

Republican representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida, who introduced a bipartisan bill with Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colorado, in 2015 “prohibiting schools from discriminating against students based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity,” and whose son is transgender released a statement Wednesday night.

"This lamentable decision can lead to hostile treatment of transgender students and studies have shown that bullying and harassment can be detrimental to the emotional and physical well-being of teenagers," said Ros-Lehtinen.

Senators Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin; Kamala Harris, D-California; Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts; and Representatives Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, D-Florida; Adam Schiff, D-California and Polis, were just a few of the fellow lawmakers who also tweeted about the action.

Celebrities such as Ellen DeGeneres, Brie Larson and Lance Bass also spoke out, as well as singer Jackie Evancho, who notably sang the national anthem at Trump's inauguration last month.

Tweeting to the president's @realDonaldTrump account, Evancho wrote: "u gave me the honor 2 sing at your inauguration. Pls give me & my sis the honor 2 meet with u 2 talk #transgender rghts."

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