U.S. Representative Jared Polis

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Polis leads bipartisan letter with over 90 Members of Congress demanding that the Dept. of Education protect transgender students from discrimination

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Washington, March 2, 2018 | comments
Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., authored a bipartisan letter to the Secretary of Education - Betsy DeVos - demanding that the Department of Education investigate cases of discrimination for transgender students.   

Over 90 Members of Congress signed onto the bipartisan letter, authored also by Rep. Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.).  It reads in part:

“Discrimination against LGBTQ students in school settings robs our students of their right to a quality and safe education. […] It is your responsibility to protect all students from harmful practices that jeopardize the learning experience and environment of all students including transgender students.”

Read the official letter here.

“We are witnessing yet another attack from the Trump Administration on transgender Americans, and this attack is the lowest of low because it is on young students,” said Polis. “All students, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, have the right to a quality and safe learning space and should feel comfortable at school. The Department of Education is blindly disregarding its obligation to protect the safety and wellbeing of all students.”

Several advocate groups have stated agreement with the letter:

Mara Keisling, National Center for Transgender Equality, (NCTE): “The courts keep making it clear: singling out transgender students for discrimination is wrong, it's harmful to their education, and it's illegal. The Department of Education is abdicating its duty to enforce the law and protect students and instead is misleading schools and promoting harm. We thank those Members of Congress who are standing up for the students in their districts across the country who just want to get an education and not be singled out because of who they are.”

David Stacy, Human Rights Campaign: "Federal courts have already ruled that transgender students are covered under Title IX. Betsy DeVos and the Department of Education are legally obligated to ensure all students have equal access to a safe and welcoming learning environment and the opportunities that come with it. We thank Representatives Jared Polis and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen for leading their Congressional colleagues in this bipartisan effort to ensure the U.S. government takes action to protect all children."

Ian Thompson, ACLU: “The Trump administration has chosen, shamefully, to turn their backs on transgender students. It’s heartening to see so many Members of Congress refusing to follow the administration’s discriminatory lead. Courts have concluded time and again that federal civil rights laws protect transgender students from discrimination, including in the context of restroom and locker room use. The ACLU applauds Representatives Polis and Ros-Lehtinen for their bipartisan leadership in fighting for the civil rights of transgender students in our nation’s schools.”

Polis has longtime advocated for LGBTQ rights. He is the champion of the Student Non-Discrimination Act (SNDA), which provides protections for LGBTQ students in the classroom to ensure they have access to a safe environment free from discrimination. SNDA would establish a comprehensive federal prohibition of discrimination in public schools based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, and includes remedies for discrimination in public schools based on perceived discriminations.

Polis is a founding member and co-chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. He’s also an original cosponsor of the Equality Act, which would amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and other existing laws to prohibit discrimination based on actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity in the areas of employment, education, credit, housing, federal funding, jury service, and public accommodations. 

Last year, as a co-chair of the LGBT Equality Caucus, Polis helped relaunch the Transgender Equality Task Force.  Last year, he also led a bicameral letter asking the Dept. of Education to remain committed to civil rights protections and enforcements.  In addition, he serves on the Committee on Education and the Workforce, is the lead Democrat on the Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee, and is a member of the Higher Education and Workforce Development Subcommittee. 

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