WASHINGTON — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, blasted the House Freedom Caucus’ efforts to end two crucially important protections for LGBTQ people at the federal level. As part of a document outlining more than 200 rules, regulations and executive orders they want revoked, the caucus targeted federal guidance on the fair and equal treatment of transgender students from the Department of Education, as well as non-discrimination protections in the Affordable Care Act.
“In a ridiculous hit list of policies they want revoked, the House Freedom Caucus is shamefully demanding a rollback of protections from discrimination for LGBTQ people — protections the majority of Americans support. These guidelines ensure Americans aren’t denied health care simply because of who they are or whom they love and ensure transgender students have the same opportunities as their peers to thrive in a classroom. They are crucially important protections that absolutely must remain in place. Lives depend on them,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. “Congressman Mark Meadows’ and the House Freedom Caucus’ efforts must be stopped. It’s time for folks to stand up, speak out, and demand lawmakers keep these fundamental protections for LGBTQ people in place.”
Earlier this month, HRC released the results of major post-election polls conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research showing that the majority of the electorate — including voters that supported Donald Trump and Mike Pence — has in no way backed down from supporting LGBTQ equality. The national survey found significant support for comprehensive legal protections for LGBTQ Americans. An impressive 69 percent of voters — including a 55 percent majority of Trump voters — support the Equality Act which would broaden — not contract — equality in this country.
The House Freedom Caucus is targeting U.S. Department of Education guidance offered to schools in May clarifying that transgender students have the right to be free from discrimination in public and federally-funded schools, including the ability to use gender-separated facilities (such as restrooms and locker rooms) that match their gender identity. This guidance follows similar policies in states and school districts across the country, including many that have been treating transgender students with dignity and respect for more than a decade. The Department of Education released the guidance because schools and districts requested clarification on their obligations under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), which prohibits discrimination in education programs based on sex, and how they can safeguard transgender students’ rights to privacy and safety. This approach ensures that transgender students’ civil rights will be protected, including guaranteeing them access to facilities consistent with their gender identity.
The caucus is also targeting LGBTQ non-discrimination protections in healthcare. In May, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) published the final regulation implementing the landmark non-discrimination provision of the Affordable Care Act, Section 1557, which prohibits discrimination in healthcare on the basis of a number of protected classes, including sex. These regulations codified existing informal guidance from HHS interpreting this provision to include protections from discrimination on the basis of gender identity and sex stereotyping. This interpretation extends real, concrete protections to not only transgender and gender nonconforming people in federal programs, but also to many lesbian, gay and bisexual people who experience discrimination based on sex stereotyping. The regulation also equips people who have experienced discrimination with a mechanism for reporting a claim and seeking justice.
Access to healthcare should never be denied because of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTQ people have too often faced healthcare systems that provide inequitable and hostile treatment. The important regulation addresses many of these disparities and is crucial to help end discrimination against LGBTQ people in healthcare and insurance.