As the Obama administration has worked to use current federal law to protect LGBT students, some conservative rights groups are protesting saying the issue doesn’t warrant federal action.
Conservative groups are griping that the Obama administration has in some cases been using Title IX, a law banning sex discrimination, to apply to discrimination against students who don’t conform to gender stereotypes and on that basis has cited Title IX in, for instance, the Anoka-Hennepin federal investigation.
Conservative commentators believe this is a step too far for the federal government and, what is more, they apparently think it’s an overreaction.
“I should say upfront I’m against bullying,” Roger Clegg of the Center for Equal Opportunity, who testified before the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights against DOJ’s interpretation of the law, told TPM.
“I think that bullying on the basis of sexual orientation is clearly not an area in which there is federal authority,” Clegg said. “The legal question aside, I also thing as a policy matter, this is not an issue in which the federal government’s involvement is going to help.”
Using Title IX in cases involving gay kids has actually been going on since 1999 and the Wagner v. Fayetteville Public Schools case, with plenty more examples after that including Ray v. Antioch Unified School District, 2000; Montgomery v. Independent School District No. 709, 2000; and Henkle v. Gregory, 2001. Title IX has also been interpreted to specifically cover gender expression since the 2005 case Theno v. Tonganoxie. That the Obama admin is now more vigorously enforcing this standard may be new but that doesn’t mean it is beyond the administration’s power. Regardless, Clegg continues (emphasis added):
Clegg believes that schools have the responsibility to protect their students from bullying but that the issue is better handled on the local and state level.
“You’d think that the gay community of all communities would understand that it’s not a good idea for the government to make up a law when it wants to go after an unpopular group or when it wants to score political points,” Clegg said.
“This is not a situation in which, if the federal government doesn’t go in, nobody can do anything and people are going to die or anything like that,” Clegg said. “There are state and local governments in addition to the schools that can get involved. I don’t find this to be a really difficult issue.”
Remember how in the Anoka-Hennepin school district at least nine kids took their own lives due to bullying? How six students then had to take the District to court and a federal investigation had to be conducted before the District would retire its gay gag rule on not discussing homosexuality and actually affirm that it would protect LGBT students from bullying?
And remember how for the past couple of years there’s been several waves of suicides across America where we’d wake up day after day to find yet another life lost due to harassment and torment in schools?
And remember how recently a Ohio teen was beaten in the classroom for being gender nonconforming and the school administration asked how they could change him to make it stop rather than actually protect his right to self expression?
But no. None of that must have happened because it’s not as if “people are going to die or anything like that” if the government doesn’t step in.