Tech giant Apple has released a statement to Axios speaking out against Trump’s new executive orders which effectively rescinded the Obama administration’s protections for transgender students. On May 13th, 2106 The U.S. Departments of Education and Justicer released Joint Guidance to Help Schools Ensure the Civil Rights of Transgender Students. In short, the letter specified that transgender students have the right to use public school restrooms that match their gender identity.
Apple is the Cupertino company which specializes in designing, developing and selling consumer electronics (iPad, iPhone) and online services (iTunes). However, recently the company has made it a point to speak out publicly on social issues concerning equality and discrimination. The technology behemoth has not been shy with its criticism of President Trump’s agenda. In January Apple CEO Tim Cook made it clear that the President’s immigration executive order was not a policy that Apple supported. Eventually, Apple joined nearly 100 firms filing a legal brief against the order.
The company has now shown its distaste for Trump’s new executive order concerning transgender rights. The Obama Administration set forth an order which allowed transgender students use the bathroom of their choice in schools. Obama went as far as threatening to take away school funding away from those who disobeyed the order. However, Trump’s new order states public schools should have the authority to make their own decisions on matters such as this.
In the statement which was released yesterday, Apple continues to commit to its ongoing message of equality. In part the message reads:
“Apple believes everyone deserves a chance to thrive in an environment free from stigma and discrimination. We support efforts toward greater acceptance, not less, and we strongly believe that transgender students should be treated as equals. We disagree with any effort to limit or rescind their rights and protections.”
Although the statement was not directly quoted from Tim Cook, the CEO has spoken out against discrimination against the LGBTQ community in the past. In March 2015, Cook spoke out against Indiana’s controversial “Religious Freedom” law, which allowed business owners to turn away LGBTQ customers by citing “religious freedom.” Cook also called on Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson to veto the bill. Additionally, in 2013 both Cook and Apple came out in support of the Employment Nondiscrimination Act and released a statement of support after the Supreme Court gay marriage ruling.
The ability to have bathroom access has recently become a hot-button political issue. The divisiveness emerged last March when North Carolina passed a bill which prevented transgenders from using restrooms that don’t match the sex on their birth certificate. While the portion about the restroom gets the most attention, it was a part of a larger bill which eliminated anti-discrimination protections for gay and transgender people. The new controversial executive order signed by Trump immediately goes into effect and effectively follows the same legal standard as the North Carolina bill. The order allows states to make the decision on restrooms as they see fit and accordingly charge and arrest people who violate the law.
The order hasn’t just caused controversy with Fortune 500 companies such as Apple, apparently, there is even a schism within the Trump White House. According to sources close to the White House, The newly appointed US Secretary of Education Betsy Devos, did not initially support Trump’s executive order. Considering the volatility of the subject, it is no surprise that the matter will be heard in front of the Supreme Court in March. The outcome of that case will no doubt have reverberations in the legal world for years to come.