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Congresswoman Wexton Working to Protect Obama-Era HUD Regulation

Should transgender youth be turned away from homeless shelters? One Virginia member of Congress is taking issue with the Trump administration’s position on that question.

During the Obama years, the Department of Housing and Urban Development created a new policy known as the Equal Access Rule — preventing single-sex shelters receiving HUD funding from turning away transgender youth.

Since President Trump was elected, though, some of the guidance requiring those shelters to post language informing people of their rights was scaled back. That prompted Democratic Congresswoman Jennifer Wexton to question HUD Secretary Ben Carson about the rule this week in the Financial Services Committee.

Wexton asked, “Can you assure this committee that HUD does not have any current or future plans to eliminate the Equal Access Rule in rulemaking?

“I’m not going to say what we will do in the future about anything. We don’t know what we are going to do in the future,” replied Carson.

“Are you currently anticipating doing that?," she asked.

Carson responded, “I’m not currently anticipating changing the rule.”

The next day, the department unveiled a new proposal that would allow shelters to consider a person’s gender identity in determining whether to turn them away, a move Wexton says guts the Obama-era rule protecting transgender youth who become homeless. Wexton responded by introducing a new bill blocking that change — a move she says would help protect a population often threatened by violence.

Wexton also had this to say on Twitter:

She also detailed the full text of her bill:

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.