Reform movement, ADL slam Trump rollback of protections for transgender students


(JTA) — The Reform movement, the Anti-Defamation League and other Jewish groups denounced the decision by President Donald Trump to rescind regulations allowing transgender students to use bathrooms corresponding to their gender identity.

Trump on Wednesday rejected the Obama administration’s order that public schools allow transgender students to choose which bathrooms to use.

Leaders of the movement’s congregational arm, the Union for Reform Judaism, along with its rabbinical group, the Central Conference of American Rabbis, and policy arm, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, joined in a statement Thursday against the action.

“Far from protecting girls and women from men in women’s bathrooms, decisions such as this imperil transgender youth,” the statement reads. “Transgender men and boys may appear threatening and come under attack if forced to use women’s restrooms. Transgender women and girls risk becoming victims of violence if forced to use men’s restrooms.

“The administration has overturned a rule that was sound public policy and endeavored to uphold ‘pikuach nefesh,’ saving life, the very highest of religious injunctions.”

Jonathan Greenblatt, the national director of the ADL, called the decision “cruel, tinged with prejudice and unnecessary” in a Thursday statement.

“This action sends a deeply disturbing message that the federal government is abdicating its responsibility for a student’s health and well-being and deferring to states and local school districts in establishing educational policy. It also suggests the administration will not support or defend LGBT-inclusive policies,” Greenblatt said.

The National Council of Jewish Women noted that Trump made the decision just weeks after the White House said the president was “determined to protect the rights of all Americans, including the LGBTQ community.”

In a statement Thursday, CEO Nancy Kaufrman wrote that her group was “disgusted by this betrayal, which puts transgender students at risk for bullying, harassment, and violence.”

The social justice group Bend the Arc Jewish Action also denounced the decision, calling it an “assault on freedom and human dignity.”

“Jewish and American values demand that we defend and support the marginalized and oppressed and that we treat everyone equally,” CEO Stosh Cotler said in a statement. “By withdrawing these protections for transgender youth, the Trump administration is turning its back on these fundamental principles.”

Trump’s order will not have an immediate effect because a federal judge in August blocked Obama’s order, which said transgender students’ rights were protected under nondiscrimination laws. Individual schools can allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice.

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