Apple slams Trump order rescinding transgender protections

The tech titan says it supports "greater acceptance, not less" after the president rolls back Obama-era policies. Other companies are adding their weight.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook is no stranger to opposing government moves seen as limiting the rights and protections of members of the LGBT community.

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Apple criticized President Donald Trump's decision to roll back federal protections for transgender students in schools.

The iPhone maker said late Wednesday it opposes any effort to revoke policies protecting transgender people and that all people should have opportunities open to them, unhindered by discrimination.

"Apple believes everyone deserves a chance to thrive in an environment free from stigma and discrimination," the company said in a statement, earlier reported by Axios. "We support efforts toward greater acceptance, not less, and we strongly believe that transgender students should be treated as equals.

The statement added that Apple disagreed with "any effort to limit or rescind their rights and protections."

Apple's comments came just hours after the Trump administration reversed Obama-era policies requiring that public schools allow transgender students to use the restroom that corresponds with their gender identity. Trump's order gives states and school districts the authority to decide whether federal sex discrimination law applies to gender identity. Other tech companies followed suit.

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff immediately added his support, retweeting a comment from the American Civil Liberties Union. "We want trans students across the country and their parents to know the law is on your side and we at the ACLU won't stop fighting for you," the tweet read.

On Thursday, Benioff tweeted, " All children are created equal & need unconditional love. All deserve freedom from fear, anxiety, & threats of discrimination. Love 1&all," with a photo of two people touching an inclusive restroom sign.

Benioff is one of the tech industry's most active executives. He led a tech industry charge that prompted Indiana and Arkansas lawmakers to amend controversial state "religious freedom" laws in 2015.

Social media giant Facebook said Thursday it 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," the company said.

On Thursday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings published a short message on Facebook about the Trump administration's move. "Sorrow for our transgender children," he wrote, linking to a New York Times story about the policy change.

Photo-sharing site Pinterest, which has gender neutral bathrooms for its employees said Thursday, "We oppose the decision to weaken protections for transgender students. We believe everyone deserves to live, work and learn in an inclusive environment."

Also Thursday, Tech Stands Up, a grassroots organization of tech workers in opposition to the Trump administration also added its support.

"Transgender rights are human rights," the group said in a statement. "We strongly oppose any government action that signals widespread rejection of a whole group of people."

The group is helping organize a March 14 rally of tech workers to protest Trump.

A Google representative said the search giant also supported equal rights for the LGBT community.

"We've long advocated for policies that provide equal rights and treatment for all," a rep for the search giant said in an email. "We're deeply concerned to see a roll-back in transgender students' rights."

Apple is no stranger to voicing its opposition to government decisions seen as allowing discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people. In March 2016, Apple CEO Tim Cook was among more than 90 business executives who spoke out against a North Carolina law that would force transgender students to use school toilets "inconsistent with their gender identity."

Cook, who said in 2014 he is gay, has often spoken out against anti-LGBT legislation, and his name was featured on Alabama's anti-discrimination bill.

Apple has been a frequent participant in San Francisco's annual Pride Parade, posting a video to YouTube of the many Apple employees who marched in the parade celebrating gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people.

The White House didn't respond to a request for comment.

Originally posted Feb. 22 at 10 p.m. PT.
Updated Feb. 23 at 5:12 p.m. PT: Added comments from Facebook and Pinterest.

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