Jackie Evancho, the singer who performed the national anthem at Donald Trump’s inauguration, is asking the president to meet with her and her sister about the need for transgender equality.
Evancho’s sister, Juliet, is transgender and sued her Pennsylvania school district over its rule that students must use the restroom that corresponds with the sex they were assigned at birth.
The request from Evancho, 16, came shortly after the Trump administration announced Wednesday it was rescinding guidance put in place by President Barack Obama’s administration that barred schools that receive federal funding from discriminating against transgender students, including blocking them from using the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity.
The White House did not immediately return a request for comment.
Evancho was one of the few performers to agree to appear at Trump’s inauguration. She has said she’s proud and supportive of her sister’s fight.
Juliet was unable to attend the inauguration because she was undergoing gender confirmation surgery. Jackie said she was upset they couldn’t be together for each other’s big moments.
“It sucks for me to not be there for her but I’m going through something really big on the same time,” Jackie told ABC’s “Nightline” in January. “So, I guess we both just wish we could be there for each other. It’s unfortunate it’s on the same time but we were there in spirit.”
Mike Evancho, the girls’ father, has said that the family will continue to fight for transgender rights.
“We’re fighting this discrimination at the high school,” he told The New York Times in January. “It doesn’t matter who’s going into the office, we would still fight that fight.”
The federal government said at the time that transgender students were covered under Title IX, the statute that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex. This interpretation had been on hold, however, after more than a dozen states sued the Obama administration and a judge issued an injunction in August.
On Wednesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions argued that the Obama policy “did not contain sufficient legal analysis or explain how the interpretation was consistent with the language of Title IX.” Both he and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos argued that they were still committed to protecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer students from harassment and bullying.
The White House has said Trump believes transgender rights are a “states’ rights” issue.
The Trump administration’s latest decision could also affect the case of Gavin Grimm, a transgender teenager in Virginia who sued his school for the right to use the boys bathroom. The Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on March 28, and the rescinding of the federal guidance could give the court an excuse to throw it back to the lower court.
LGBTQ advocates emphasized Wednesday that even though the Trump administration rescinded the Obama administration’s Title IX guidance, the legal foundation that interpretation was built upon is still solid.
“While it’s disappointing to see the Trump administration revoke the guidance, the administration cannot change what Title IX means,” said Joshua Block, a senior staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union who is lead counsel for Grimm. “When it decided to hear Gavin Grimm’s case, the Supreme Court said it would decide which interpretation of Title IX is correct, without taking any administration’s guidance into consideration. We’re confident that the law is on Gavin’s side and he will prevail just as he did in the Fourth Circuit.”
UPDATE: Feb. 23 ― White House Press Secretary responded to the Evancho sisters’ request, saying, “Yeah, I think the president would be welcome to meet with her.”
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