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CPAC Attendees Weigh In On Trump's Lifting Of Transgender Bathroom Rule


Yesterday, the White House withdrew President Obama's guidance telling schools to let transgender students use the bathrooms that align with their gender identity. Those decisions will now be up to states or local school districts. In a moment, we'll hear from Gavin Grimm, a transgender student at the center of this debate.


But first we wanted to hear from conservatives who have long been critical of the Obama administration's move, so we sent a producer to CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference. There, we heard from Franklin Debrot. He's a philosophy professor at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.

FRANKLIN DEBROT: Well, I don't see transgender students - people like that - facing the same kind of discrimination that black people did, for instance, 50 years ago. It's not the same kind of a thing. The Obama administration was trying to lump, conflate all these different people who claim to have this problem or that problem.

SHAPIRO: LGBT advocates say what the Trump administration has just done puts transgender students at greater risk of bullying. Mary Frances Varner of Alexandria, Va., disagrees.

MARY FRANCES VARNER: I think schools are schools, and kids are kids. There's always going to be a fight on the playground. That's how we grow up, and that's how we learn things. There's a big difference between those kinds of things and bullying. And I think there's been such strong campaigns against bullying, which I agree with, that - I think it's apples and oranges.

MIKE BARTELS: I mean, we should recognize that discrimination is a thing. I think that's something that a lot of people have difficulty realizing. But at the same time, the fact that this amount of power is being kind of given in the hands of the president - it's kind of stretching the executive power to a degree.

CORNISH: That's Mike Bartels, a student at Providence College in Rhode Island. He was attending today's Conservative Political Action Conference, just outside of Washington, D.C. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.