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Brooklyn Law School professors troubled by Trump’s “War on Gender”

April 10, 2017 By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Brooklyn Law School professors Susan Hazeldean and Elizabeth Schneider spoke about how President Donald Trump’s policies have affected women and called it a “war on gender” during a recent Legal Lunch that took place at the school last Tuesday. Eagle photo by Rob Abruzzese

The Women’s March on Washington, the largest political demonstration in the U.S. since the anti-Vietnam War protests of the 1960s and ’70s, was the direct result of the political positions that President Donald Trump took during his campaign.

Now, less than three months following Trump’s inauguration and the march, Brooklyn Law School (BLS) professor Elizabeth Schneider pulled no punches in describing the political atmosphere during a Legal Lunch at the school last Tuesday — it is war on women!

“We are in a war on gender,” Schneider said. “It is remarkable for the aggressive coordinated policies and the norms that have been developed. It’s just something that we’ve really never seen before in this country.”

Schneider addressed a group of nearly 40 students and community members at a Legal Lunch organized by BLS. The discussions, which are free and open to students as well as members of the local community, tackle the new presidential administration and its policies.

On Tuesday, professors Schneider and Susan Hazeldean discussed the effects Trump’s administration has had on women’s rights, reproductive rights and LGBTQ rights.

“It’s hard, honestly, to know where to start when it comes to thinking about the new administration in terms of gender discrimination,” Schneider said.

Schneider pointed out that Trump’s cabinet has the smallest amount of women since Ronald Reagan’s in the 1980s. She suggested that photos which depict Trump and his cabinet sans any women are done deliberately to send a message that rights will be rolled back.

During the discussion, the two professors discussed the various policies that have already been put into place that limit the rights of women and the LGBTQ community. Those included the global gag rule, which bans foreign nongovernmental organizations from counseling health clients about abortions, cuts to the Legal Services Corporation and cutting back on Title 20 of the Family Planning Act, which will lead to cuts to Planned Parenthood.

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“No issue is more simple — without the ability to control the question of pregnancy, there is no freedom for women,” Schneider said. “No freedom of jobs, no freedom to work, no freedom to have a full life.”

Hazeldean suggested that Trump is cutting back on rights of the LGBTQ community simply by pretending that they don’t exist.

“It’s telling that one of the first things that happened when he took office was that he took down lots of things from the White House website, and one of those was page on LGBT rights,” she said.

Hazeldean went on to talk about advances that the community made with the help of the Obama administration, particularly when it came to data collecting, and pointed out that Trump’s administration has already done away with some of this.

“The administration removed questions regarding LGBT identity from various surveys that the government uses to assess the use of government resources,” said Hazeldean. “It indicates that the administration is not interested in learning the needs of the LGBT community or advancing those rights. It’s more interested in erasing the LGBT community or rendering us invisible.”

Schneider pointed out that the problem is at least somewhat self-inflicted, explaining that fewer college-educated, white women supported Hillary Clinton than Barack Obama. But she added that seeing women leading the resistance movement was a positive response.

“It is a troubling thing that cannot be ignored,” Schneider said. “Fortunately, in the period since Trump has been elected, there has been a tremendous outpouring of women’s activism. Is there enough activism to really say, “No, this is unacceptable?” It’s probably too early to know the answer to that.”

 

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