Jackie Evancho Pleads With Trump to Meet About Transgender Rights

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Jackie Evancho and Juliet Evancho

The singer, who performed at his inauguration and has a transgender sister, tweeted Wednesday that she was "disappointed" with his decision to revoke transgender student bathroom protections.

Inauguration performer Jackie Evancho has reached out to President Donald Trump via Twitter after his administration lifted federal protections for transgender students Wednesday. 

The Trump administration lifted federal guidelines that said transgender students should be allowed to use public school bathrooms and locker rooms matching their chosen gender identity.

The 16-year-old singer, who was first discovered on America's Got Talent when she was 10 years old, proudly performed at his inauguration in January. Her transgender sister Juliet is currently involved in a lawsuit against their local school district in Pennsylvania over her right to use women's bathrooms.

On behalf of her sister, she took to Twitter to encourage the president to meet with her and her sister to talk about the repercussions of his administration lifting those guidelines for transgender students. 

Earlier, she tweeted, "I am obviously disappointed in the @POTUS decision to send the #transgender bathroom issue to the states to decide."

Stepping into an emotional national issue, the administration came down on the side of states' rights, lifting federal guidelines that had been issued by the Obama administration. Without the Obama directive, it will be up to states and school districts to interpret federal anti-discrimination law and determine whether students should have access to restrooms in accordance with their expressed gender identity and not just their biological sex.

"This is an issue best solved at the state and local level," said Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. "Schools, communities and families can find — and in many cases have found — solutions that protect all students."

The Obama guidance did not sufficiently explain how federal sex discrimination law known as Title IX also applies to gender identity, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. "Congress, state legislatures and local governments are in a position to adopt appropriate policies or laws addressing this issue," said Sessions.

In a letter to the nation's schools, the Justice and Education departments said the earlier guidance "has given rise to significant litigation regarding school restrooms and locker rooms."

The agencies withdrew the guidance to "in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved."

Anti-bullying safeguards would not be affected by the change, according to the letter. "All schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment," it said.

It was not clear what immediate impact the change would have on schools, as a federal judge in Texas put a temporary hold on the Obama guidance soon after it was issued — when 13 states sued.

Even without that hold, the guidance carried no force of law. But transgender rights advocates say it was useful and necessary to protect students from discrimination. Opponents argued it was federal overreach and violated the safety and privacy of other students.

Conservative activists hailed the change, saying the Obama directives were illegal and violated the rights of fixed-gender students, especially girls who did not feel safe changing clothes or using restrooms next to anatomical males.

However, the reversal is a setback for transgender rights groups, which had been urging Trump to keep the guidelines in place. Advocates say federal law still will prohibit discrimination against students based on their gender or sexual orientation.

Still, they say lifting the Obama directive puts children in harm's way.

"Reversing this guidance tells trans kids that it's OK with the Trump administration and the Department of Education for them to be abused and harassed at school for being trans," said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten.

Activists protested the move Wednesday outside the White House. "Respect existence or expect resistance," read one placard.

Hollywood figures joined Evancho in taking to Twitter to express their concern over the decision.

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