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Apple has spoken out against President Trump’s decision to rescind protections for transgender students.
“Apple believes everyone deserves a chance to thrive in an environment free from stigma and discrimination,” the company said in a statement to Axios on Wednesday. “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.”
Apple’s response came hours after Trump rejected Obama-era guidelines requiring that public schools allow transgender students to use bathrooms in accord with their gender identity. In a joint letter, Trump administration officials from the Justice Department and Education Department argued that that position was taken “without due regard for the primary role of the states and local school districts in establishing educational policy.”
While the order sharply curbs transgender protections and gives states and local school superintendents broader oversight over school bathroom policies, it did note that “All schools must ensure that students, including L.G.B.T. students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment”. That language was likely a concession to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who was initially reluctant to revoke protections for transgender students, The New York Times reports. DeVos was eventually strong-armed into relenting by Trump, who was pushed to make the decision by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
This is not the first time that Apple has taken a stand on the issue of transgender rights. Last March, Apple CEO Tim Cook was among more than 80 executives who petitioned North Carolina legislators to repeal a law that forced transgender students to use school restrooms “inconsistent with their gender identity”. Cook himself has been a vocal proponent of LGBT rights for years.
In 2015, he published an op-ed in The Washington Post opposing laws that allow businesses to refuse service to homosexuals on the grounds of “religious freedom”, writing in it that they “rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.”
In recent weeks, his company has also publicly opposed another Trump policy– namely the controversial executive order banning immigration from seven predominantly Muslim nations, which affected several Apple employees.
“Apple would not exist without immigration, let alone thrive and innovate the way we do,” Cook said in an email to Apple employees.