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US President Donald Trump’s administration revokes Transgender Bathroom Rules

Donald Trump's administration revoked landmark guidance to the country's schools letting transgender students use the bathrooms of their choice

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FILE - A bathroom sign welcomes both genders at the Cacao Cinnamon coffee shop in Durham, N.C., May 3, 2016. VOA

Washington, Feb 23, 2017: US President Donald Trump’s administration revoked landmark guidance to the country’s schools letting transgender students use the bathrooms of their choice, reversing a signature initiative of former President Barack Obama.

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In a joint letter on Wednesday, the top civil rights officials from the Justice Department and the Education Department rejected the Obama administration’s position that non-discrimination laws require schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity, the New York Times reported.

The two-page “Dear colleague” letter from the Trump administration, was sent to the nation’s public schools and it did not offer any new guidance.

Instead, it said that the earlier directive needed to be withdrawn because it lacked extensive legal analysis, did not go through a public vetting process, sowed confusion and drew legal challenges, the New York Times report said.

The letter stated that the earlier directive was improperly and arbitrarily devised, “without due regard for the primary role of the states and local school districts in establishing educational policy”.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said: “We have a responsibility to protect every student in America and ensure that they have the freedom to learn and thrive in a safe and trusted environment.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that his department “has a duty to enforce the law” and criticised the Obama administration’s guidance as lacking sufficient legal basis, reported ABC News.

Sessions wrote that the Department of Justice remains committed to the “proper interpretation” and and enforcement of the anti-discrimination law known as Title IX to its protections for all students, including LGBTQ students, from discrimination, bullying, and harassment.”

Gay rights supporters made their displeasure clear after the move. Outside the White House, several hundred people protested the decision, waving rainbow flags and chanting, “No hate, no fear, trans students are welcome here”.

Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said: “Transgender young people face tragically high rates of discrimination and bullying, and they need a government that will stand up for them — not attack them.”

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American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) LGBT project director James Esseks said: “Revoking the guidance shows that the President’s promise to protect LGBT rights was just empty rhetoric… School districts that recognise that should continue doing the right thing; for the rest, we’ll see them in court.”

The new letter scrambled the calculus for a number of lawsuits working their way through the courts, particularly the case of Gavin Grimm, a transgender Virginia teenager who sued his school board for barring him from the boys’ restroom.

The case is scheduled for oral arguments before the US Supreme Court in March. Grimm said he was disheartened that the Trump administration is withdrawing Obama’s guidance which was “incredibly empowering”. (IANS)

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Delhi to Have Full-Fledged Schools on Lines of NSD

There should be one centre that can cater to two-three states

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Delhi, Schools, NSD
Right now, students from across the country have to come to NSD in Delhi and first learn Hindi. Wikimedia Commons

Stressing that the National School of Drama (NSD) in the capital was committed to opening three new centres across the country, besides doubling the duration of its one-year courses at its already existing regional centres in Bangalore, Varanasi and Sikkim, Suresh Sharma, Director-in-Charge, NSD told IANS that the school had already appealed to the Ministry of Culture for the same.

“This assumes paramount importance as people whose mother tongue is not Hindi should be imparted training in the language they plan to work in. Right now, students from across the country have to come to NSD in Delhi and first learn Hindi. There should be one centre that can cater to two-three states,” Sharma said.

Besides this, the school also plans to start a one-year course in writing for theatre in Maharashtra. “In fact, as an experiment, we held a workshop in Pune that started last year in October,” he said.

Sharma believes that these centres should not be ‘regional’ in essence, but in fact operate on the lines of IITs and IIMs.

Delhi, Schools, NSD
This assumes paramount importance as people whose mother tongue is not Hindi should be imparted training in the language they plan to work in. Wikimedia Commons

“The idea is to have full-fledged schools on the lines of NSD in Delhi.”

All set to organise the 11th-edition of Bal Sangam from November 9-12 at its premises, he said that theatre and folk performances are a great learning medium for exploring and sensitising children towards different contemporary issues.

“Such activities and festivals are a wonderful platform to not just perform, but learn, travel, and share. NSD believes that theatre makes a person sensitive towards issues and an active participant of society as it boosts powers of communication. Theatre brings in all these qualities and if children are introduced to this wonderful, they become better human beings,” Sharma noted.

Talk to him about the fact that non-metros seldom get to witness quality theatre and he asserts, “Earlier, the Bharat Rang Mahotsav used to be organised only in Delhi and satellite towns. However, things changed from last year and the festival travelled across the country. In fact, this year too, we plan to take it to places like Dehradun, Nagpur, Jorhat and Tejpur. This holds true for ‘Summer Theatre’ too, which was restricted only to Delhi. Last year, shows were held at diverse places like Patna, Benaras, and Aurangabad.”

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Stating that NSD, wanted to take its activities beyond Delhi too as the capital and other metros like Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore, are quite active as far as theatre was concerned, he added, “It is in smaller towns that we need to get theatre to. We want to do that through workshops, shows, theatre festivals, technical training workshops in coming times.”

Lamenting that corporate support for independent theatre was limited to a handful of groups doing commercial English work, Sharma, who has been active in the theatre scene for more than three decades now, asserted, “It’s done as part of their CSR. Support needs to be given to groups who are doing excellent creative work and boast of a vision. The commercial ones can still survive tickets. The ones who really need support are the groups in smaller towns, doing. If they get, I am sure the condition of theatre in contemporary times will undergo a sea change.”

With his next production, based on Jallianwala Bagh, Sharma plans go on a large canvas. “It may be staged at Ferozeshah Kotla and the Jallianwala Bagh in Amritsar, if possible.” (IANS)