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Trump administration may end disciplinary protections for minority students

Trump administration may end disciplinary protections for minority students

A young black person writing in a notebook

According to the New York Times, obtained documents reveal the Trump administration is planning to roll back another set of Obama-era policies.

This time, they’re targeting protections for minority students in schools across the country.

Under the leadership of Barack Obama in 2014, the White House implemented policies aimed at making sure minority students did not face disproportionate disciplinary actions.

Trump and his Education Department, led by Betsy DeVos, however, argue the policies ‘eased up on punishment and contributed to rising violence in the nation’s schools’.

This development reportedly stems from this year’s shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida. Rather than focusing on gun control, though, Trump and DeVos created a school safety commission.

The Times reported the documents, written by the commission, focus primarily on race.

‘The federal government’s paramount obligation is to guarantee student safety, including when it is acting to ensure that educational programs and policies are administered in a racially neutral fashion,’ one of the documents reads. ‘However, where well-meaning but flawed policies endanger student safety, they must be changed.’

It is important to note none of the high-profile school shootings in the US in recent years, including Marjory Stoneman, have been perpetrated by black students.

A ‘red herring’

Activists and civil rights groups are criticizing the planned action.

David Stacy, the Director of Government Affairs at the Human Rights Groups, is one such critic. He lambasted the administration for using the issue of gun control to take these steps.

‘While the revocation of this guidance would not change federal civil rights laws, this dangerous action would embolden discriminatory practices that push students of color, including LGBTQ students of color, out of the classroom,’ he said.

‘It is particularly outrageous to utilize a commission tasked with addressing gun violence in schools as a tool to undermine protections for students of color.’

Eve Hill, a disability rights lawyer at Brown, Goldstein & Levy, worked on the original 2014 guidelines.

She described this new call to revoke the guidelines as a ‘red herring.. to raise fears about our own children’.

Compounded issues

LGBTI students of color face compounded issues and struggles not experienced by their white peers.

A GLSEN report of the school climate in the US last year found these disproportionate experiences.

Only multi-racial, Native American, and Alaskan Native LGBTI student reported feeling unsafe due to their sexuality more than white LGBTI students. More, however, felt unsafe due to their gender identity than their white peers.

Every non-white student also reported fearing their safety due to their race at much higher rates. This is also on top of their anxieties about their sexuality or gender identity.

These trends remained the same for reporting experiences of bullying, harassment, and assault. The numbers overall, though, were higher.

This is also not the first action by DeVos harming LGBTI students.

Her department recently made changes on sexual assault and trans students’ bathroom cases.

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