JAMESTOWN – Local and regional community members are voicing their disappointment with President Donald Trump’s decision to reverse an executive order by former president Barack Obama designed to protect transgender students across the country.Last week, President Trump rescinded protections for transgender students that had allowed them to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity, overruling his own education secretary.
In response, Jamestown City Council President Greg Rabb – who’s currently the only openly gay elected official in the eight counties of Western New York – is speaking out against the President’s action.
In a letter sent out to local media (published below in its entirety), Rabb called Trump’s reversal of the policy a despicable act betraying our national commitment to equal rights for all. And in a follow-up interview with WRFA (posted above), he elaborated on the comments in his letter.
“I consider this to be an attack on the entire community because anytime you make it unsafe for students in school to learn, that’s not just an attack on trans-kids, that’s not just an attack on kids, it’s an attack on the entire community,” Rabb said.
In his interview with WRFA, Rabb also said that by reversing the trans student executive order, Trump is alienating trans students and putting them in harm’s way.
“If you look at the statistics, especially for trans kids, they’re constantly being bullied, they’re constantly being called names, they’re physically attacked, and a lot of them are even getting killed and committing suicide,” Rabb said, adding, “There’s a horrible suicide rate because they’re being rejected by friends, family, schools, teachers, and now – it appears to be – from the highest point in this country, the White House. So these kids are endangered because lots of people to take this as an opportunity to do worst things to them.”
Many districts across the country had voiced opposition to the Obama executive order, saying it was difficult to accommodate a small group of students in regards to bathroom and locker room use, at times at the expense of most other students. However, Rabb said despite concerns, the schools were able to comply.
“It was a real challenge for a lot of school districts to accommodate them, but a lot of the districts started doing really interesting and good work to making our transgender students feel safe and comfortable so they can get back to the business of learning,” Rabb said. “So it was difficult for the districts, but to their credit, a lot of them, including our own here, were trying to to the best thing they could, while trying to understand something that is – for some people – difficult to get, but we were moving in the right direction.”
In response to the Trump order, hundreds of Western New Yorkers gathered in Buffalo last Sunday for a rally to voice opposition to it, as well as show support for the LGBTQ community. Rabb was able to attend that rally, along with Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.
Despite the federal order, an executive order from Gov. Cuomo has called for schools in New York State to continue providing equal rights under the law for all students, regardless of race, religion, or gender identity.
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Rabb’s Letter to Local Media
February 23, 2017
President Trump endangering the well-being of our transgendered students
As the only openly gay elected official in the eight counties of Western New York I must speak out in the strongest language possible against the President’s despicable act betraying our national commitment to equal rights for all. Transgendered students are among the most vulnerable members of our community. President Obama understood that and through his actions stepped forward to work with local school districts to insure their safety so that our young people could get back to learning and being educated. President Trump’s action put an end to that and took us in reverse.
As a member of the LGBTQ community and an elected official I was one of almost 200 elected LGBTQ officials who signed a letter sent to President-elect Trump to protect our rights. It is clear that he didn’t get the message. I have been fighting for LGBTQ rights my entire life and we have made enormous progress until today. Any action taking away our hard fought rights would be wrong but to start with the most vulnerable among us, our youth, is simply incomprehensible to me.
I was giving the President a chance to prove that he is the President of us all. He chose not to take that opportunity. This is a sad day in the USA. The President made American First all right…the first administration to go backwards on basic human rights.
– Gregory Rabb
President, Jamestown City Council