Google, Facebook, Microsoft, and a growing number of other high-profile tech companies have come out in opposition to President Trump’s decision to roll back protections for transgender students. The original May 2016 directive, implemented by the Obama administration, gave federal guidance for allowing transgender teenagers to use public school facilities that conform to their gender identity.
The Trump administration is now actively moving to reverse that progress, starting by knocking the decision over bathroom use back to the state level. As was the case with Trump’s calls to create a Muslim registry and his more recent and ill-fated immigration ban, a coalition of tech companies is forming to voice concern for how these decisions could increase discrimination and undermine civil rights.
The opposition first began yesterday when Apple, itself led by a prominent member of the LGBT community, issued a statement saying the company disagreed “with any effort to limit or rescind... the rights and protections” of transgender students.
Google’s statement, issued to TechCrunch, says, “We’ve long advocated for policies that provide equal rights and treatment for all. We’re deeply concerned to see a roll-back in transgender students’ rights.” Facebook’s statement, also obtained by TechCrunch, reads, “Facebook is a strong supporter of equality. We stand for ensuring equal rights for everyone, including transgender students, and will continue to advocate for more rights instead of fewer.”
Other companies, like Salesforce, Microsoft, and Intel, are using Twitter, with executives signing tweets with the hashtag #ProtectTransKids:
Since Jan. 1, 1863, the federal government has played a vital role in protecting the rights of all Americans. Let’s not stop now. #LGBTQ— Brad Smith (@BradSmi) February 22, 2017
As Trump continues to make waves in Washington, Silicon Valley and the broader tech industry has had to act fast to adjust from its prior, relatively hands-off approach to directly addressing social and civil rights issues. These industry-wide objections may not have any meaningful policy impact in the short-term. But they do represent a broader awareness in the tech industry that the power and sway tech companies have earned also means using that influence to stand up for marginalized groups.