Senior White House advisers spoke about systemic racism, gender identity during pre-K-to-12 event

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In a newly unearthed video, senior White House advisers spoke about systemic racism and gender identity during a pre-K-to-12 school event on equality.

The virtual event last March featured Jennifer Klein, director of the White House Gender Policy Council and was moderated by then-director of the Council on Foreign Relations, Rachel Vogelstein, who now serves as senior adviser on the White House Gender Policy Council. 

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President Biden speaks about status of the country's fight against COVID-19 in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus March 30, 2022, in Washington. 

President Biden speaks about status of the country’s fight against COVID-19 in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus March 30, 2022, in Washington. 
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

During the event, Klein explained some of the efforts made by the Biden administration to ensure gender inclusivity, including a change in the name of the Gender Policy Council from its previous name under the Obama administration, the White House Counsel on Women and Girls.

“People experience discrimination based on gender, gender identity,” Klein said. “And so it was important to us to signal and live that value of being truly inclusive and intersectional in all of the work of the council.”

Klein said the council is working to examine “inequities based on gender and race,” including in the U.S. health care system.

“That includes looking at health disparities, whether those are racial health disparities or gender health disparities, or the combination of both,” she said. “If you look at maternal mortality — which is, by the way, going up in this country, but has been a problem around the world for far too long – that’s a result of long-term racism and sexism that’s built into a system. So we’ll be taking on those issues and comprehensive sexual and reproductive health rights and justice.”

Executive Director of the Gender Policy Council Jennifer Klein speaks during the daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., March 8, 2021.

Executive Director of the Gender Policy Council Jennifer Klein speaks during the daily briefing in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House in Washington, D.C., March 8, 2021.
(Mandel Ngan/AFP via Getty Images)

Later in the event, Vogelstein asked the panel about “the issue of gender identity and the rights of gender non-conforming people,” including trans student athletes. Vogelstein solicited input on what kind of reforms were needed to “ensure true gender equality for everyone, including gender non-binary and non-conforming people.”

“The issue of trans athletes has been in the news a lot lately with a spate of state bills introduced to ban the participation of trans athletes from female sports,” Vogelstein said. “So how should people committed to gender equality respond to these types of proposals?”

One panelist went on to slam such proposals as “anti-trans” and “really ugly and dangerous.”

Another panelist said “this pervasive environmental hostility to trans people” cannot fully be grasped “without really understanding the way that racial construction, particularly in the United States and the West, cannot be disentangled from gender bias and sexism.”

“We need to be thinking intersectionally about what it means when we say ‘woman,’ in this country,” she continued, using air quotes, “and what it means to say, ‘act woman,’ in this country, and over the course of our history how that’s been oxymoronic, and how that’s related to trans lives and issues.”

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The event was hosted by Georgetown Day School, an elite private school in Washington, D.C, that teaches pre-K through 12th grade.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris, speaks during an event on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington April 8, 2022, celebrating the confirmation of Jackson as the first Black woman to reach the Supreme Court.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, accompanied by Vice President Kamala Harris, speaks during an event on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington April 8, 2022, celebrating the confirmation of Jackson as the first Black woman to reach the Supreme Court.
(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

The same school made headlines last month during the Senate confirmation hearings of Supreme Court appointee Ketanji Brown Jackson, who serves on the school’s board of trustees, after it was revealed the school promotes controversial tenets of Critical Race Theory (CRT).

Jackson made her own headlines last month after she refused to define the word “woman” during her confirmation hearings, saying she’s “not a biologist.”

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