School districts challenge the Obama Administration’s reading of Title IX.
When Gavin Grimm starts his senior year on August 30, he’ll have to use the girls’ bathroom. Or a repurposed broom closet.
Gavin is a transgender boy. Last year, when he and his mom told school officials about his transition, the school agreed to treat him like the boy Gavin always knew he was. But the School Board objected, ultimately passing a regulation forbidding him from using the boys’ bathroom. Gavin sued and successfully got an injunction from the Fourth Circuit that prevent the Board from enforcing its new policy. But the U.S. Supreme Court, in turn, granted the Board’s request to keep the status quo in place until the Court decides whether to hear the Board’s appeal. So, while the Board works on its petition for review, Gavin’s got to use the girls’ room. Or that bathroom formerly known as a broom closet.
Spelman College President Mary Schmidt Campbell welcomed students and staff alike to the new academic year with a news-breaking short letter. Tucked among paragraphs about strategic planning and enrollment figures, was an announcement about a new task force—one that would recommend whether the storied historically black college for women should admit transgender students.
In Cincinnati, African-American girls are five times more likely to be suspended from school than white boys and nearly nine times more likely to be suspended than other girls. Nationally, black girls are suspended from school more than any other group of girls and at a much higher rate than white, Asian and Latino boys.
This is one of the consequences of “zero-tolerance” policies which use suspension, expulsion and even arrests in response to a range of school-based incidents. While originally enacted to address cases of violent behavior and drug use, the Department of Education recently reported that 95 percent of out-of-school suspensions are now passed out for nonviolent, minor disruptions such as tardiness or disrespect.
Black Lives Matter as a vehicle for addressing racial disparities in school discipline
With a new school year approaching, I found myself thinking about #BlackLivesMatter (BLM).
Not just because of the violent summer of 2016, marked by more Black men dead at the hands of police and snipers targeting white police officers.
Or, because I worry about how my students process these terrible events, particularly against the backdrop of a political campaign season that has unleashed some of the most overtly hateful and vituperative racialized and sexist rhetoric I have ever seen.
BLM has elevated and placed into context the police shootings. It has the potential to do even more. As an “ideological and political intervention,” BLM is about more than just protesting: its focus is on securing material change for African Americans. That’s why, as we go back to school, I see BLM as a promising vehicle for challenging deep seated inequality contributing to Black dis-ease in society: disparities public education.