Round 2: Tech companies condemn Trump’s anti-transgender ruling

First it was the immigration ban, now Silicon Valley is publicly denouncing President Donald Trump’s ruling that rescinds protections for transgender students.

Tal Moskowitz, 8, front, a transgender child, holds a sign as his parents Faigy Gelbstein, left, and Naomi Moskowitz, upper right, of Long Island, hold separate signs during a rally in support of transgender youth at the Stonewall National Monument, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017, in New York. They were among demonstrators The crowd gathered Thursday night in front of the Stonewall Inn. The family were speaking out against President Donald Trump’s decision to roll back a federal rule saying public schools had to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their chosen gender identity. The rule had already been blocked from enforcement, but transgender advocates view the Trump administration action as a step back for transgender rights. CREDIT: AP Photo/Kathy Willens

It’s only one month into President Donald Trump’s term, and tech companies are already voicing their displeasure about the new administration’s policies. Silicon Valley heavyweights—from Facebook to Apple, Microsoft to Salesforce to Lyft—are releasing statements decrying the Trump administration’s latest transgression: rescinding federal protections for transgender students in public schools, which allowed them to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity.

“Facebook is a strong supporter of equality,” the company said in a statement to Bloomberg. “We stand for ensuring equal rights for everyone, including transgender students, and will continue to advocate for more rights instead of fewer.”

Apple expressed similar, albeit slightly more stern, sentiments, saying the company will “support efforts toward greater acceptance, not less, and we strongly believe that transgender students should be treated as equals. We disagree with any effort to limit or rescind their rights and protections.”

And Lyft bluntly said, “Removing protections for transgender students is wrong. We oppose this action and, as always, stand in support of the LGBTQ community.”

The memo Trump issued earlier this week revoking federal guidelines for transgender students has already met opposition within the administration, and the Republican Party. According to the Washington Post, officials in the Education and Justice Departments have notified the U.S. Supreme Court that Trump’s memo violates federal anti-discrimination laws. Moreover, transgender conservatives, including reality star Caitlin Jenner, believe Trump failed the LGBTQ community. And tech companies, overall, agree.

Silicon Valley was a vocal critic of Trump during the presidential campaign and was audibly silent after the election. But tech companies have resumed their role in speaking out against government policies they believe infringe on individuals’ personal liberties and livelihoods.

Following the enforcement of Trump’s immigration executive order and Muslim ban, tech companies and their employees rallied in protest. Some 127 companies signed onto an amicus brief in a lawsuit contesting the ban’s constitutionality. In addition to tech executives and employees joining airport protests and staging workplace demonstrations, several tech giants also wrote a letter to the Trump administration denouncing the travel ban.

Immigration and equality issues are core to Silicon Valley’s ethos. The tech industry has long supported marriage equality and immigration reform, both through financial contributions to advocacy groups and direct action. Since Trump’s election, the relationship between the White House and the tech industry has been strained as the new administration rolls out policies that remove hard-fought protections or contradict tech companies’ ideals.

Pro-equality and inclusion stances are also key to tech companies’ business models. Immigrants comprise a large chunk of the tech workforce, occupying roles from entry-level to executive in Silicon Valley. Apple CEO Tim Cook, for example, is openly gay and has been a staunch supporter of LGBTQ rights for years. Additionally, Google CEO Sundar Pichai and the company’s co-founder Sergey Brin are an immigrant and refugee, respectively.

“I don’t think most of us have figured out how to deal with it,” one tech industry lobbyist told CNN. “From one week to another, it’s not clear what’s the best tactic.”

Aaron Levie, CEO of cloud-storage company Box, told CNN that Trump’s policies, such as the immigration ban are “directly against all of the values of our ecosystem and our industry,” and that creates a “more stressed relationship” between the industry and the administration.

The end result: Productivity gets “reduced with the more unpredictability there is and the more chaos that emerges.”