Trump administration ‘extorting’ schools that won’t discriminate against trans kids with million-dollar funding threat

President Donald Trump and Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

The Trump administration’s Department of Education has threatened to pull funding from Connecticut schools because they won’t exclude trans students from sports.

Overseen by the anti-LGBT Betsy DeVos, the Department of Education’s office for civil rights is threatening three school districts with the withdrawal of federal funds unless they break ties with the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference — the governing body for high school athletics in the state.

The threat, issued to the Hartford, New Haven and Groton school districts, claims that the sporting body’s policy permitting transgender kids to compete in sports corresponding to their gender identity is a violation of Title IX, the federal ban on sex-based discrimination.

According to the New York Times, the school districts could lose $18 million in desegregation grants from October 1 unless they comply with the demand to impose an anti-trans policy.

The removal of the desegregation funding could have a devastating impact for Black students in the area.

Trump administration threat is ‘effectively extortion’ over trans-inclusive policy

New Haven’s mayor Justin Elicker told the newspaper: “It’s effectively extortion. The federal government is trying to force us to take a side against transgender individuals.”

Sarah Hinger of the ACLU’s Racial Justice Program noted that 16 states have trans-inclusive policies similar to Connecticut’s, which has been in place for nearly a decade.

The Trump administration's Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos

The Trump administration’s Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos (NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP via Getty Images)

She said: “The intent and the impact here is to send a message to try to influence how other school districts will act, and that is deeply concerning.

“This is certainly very troubling for both LGBT students and students of colour. This is one more example of how DeVos has undermined and undercut their rights.”

The controversial interpretation of sex-based protections as requiring discrimination against transgender people in sport comes despite the Supreme Court’s June ruling that separate civil rights laws, barring discrimination based on sex in employment, actually extend protections to transgender people.

Education secretary Betsy DeVos slammed for ‘blatant attempt to discriminate’.

Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David said in a statement: “From day one of her tenure, Besty DeVos has sought to undermine the safety, dignity and civil rights of students of colour, LGBTQ students — especially transgender students — students with disabilities and survivors of sexual assault.

“DeVos’s decision to withhold millions of dollars in desegregation aid from Connecticut schools will have national implications resulting in harm to transgender athletes and students of colour.

“Transgender athletes have every right to play sports and participate in athletic activities in accordance with their gender identity.

“Any suggestion otherwise is a blatant attempt to discriminate. This is offensive and unacceptable. We will fight this decision and hold DeVos and the Trump-Pence administration accountable this November.”

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