tv PBS News Hour PBS June 7, 2016 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT
captioning sponsored by 6 newshour productions, llc >> woodruff: good evening. i'm judy woodruff. gwen ifill is away. on the newshour tonight: it's the last super tuesday of the primary election season-- six states cast their votes just as hillary clinton crosses the delegate threshold. but bernie sanders says it's still not over. also ahead this tuesday: >> do you believe he's fit to be president? >> the american people are going to make that decision. >> woodruff: i sit down with senate majority leader mitch mcconnell to talk about donald trump, the race for the white house, and the kentucky senator's new book. and, as states battle the federal government over which bathrooms transgender people should use, one student is pushing her school to be on the frontier of change.
>> it all comes down to being trans is about so, so much more than the bathroom issue. there's trans people living with depression or mental health and the bathroom issue is such a small part of it. >> woodruff: all that and more on tonight's pbs newshour. >> major funding for the pbs newshour has been provided by: >> some say it's a calling. some say they lost someone they loved. many say it's to save lives, as many and as often as possible. there's 100 reasons why someone becomes a doctor, but at m.d. anderson, it's because there's nothing-- and we mean nothing-- we won't do in making cancer
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>> woodruff: it's the last super tuesday of the 2016 primary season, and it's something of an anti-climax. according to new delegate counts, hillary clinton wrapped up the democratic nomination overnight, hours before polls opened in six states. meanwhile, republican donald trump was the center of a firestorm in his own party over his comments about a federal judge of mexican descent. we'll have a full report, after the news summary. in the day's other news: a car bombing killed 11 people and wounded 36 in istanbul, turkey. the target was a police vehicle, and seven of the dead were officers. the blast shook a neighborhood that houses universities and ancient roman sites. it was the city's fourth attack this year, but the turkish president vowed not to be intimidated. >> ( translated ): these terrorist activities, these
steps are being taken against those responsible for providing security. this is unforgivable, excusable. we will continue our struggle against the terrorists until the end, fearlessly and tirelessly. >> woodruff: the escalation in violence is blamed mostly on kurdish rebels and islamic state militants. the leaders of the world's two largest democracies met today, with climate change high on the agenda. president obama welcomed indian prime minister narendra modi to the white house. they discussed getting india to join a landmark climate change agreement this year, among other things. india is the world's third largest carbon emitter, after china and the u.s. another set of high-level talks between the u.s. and china wrapped up today in beijing. secretary of state john kerry urged the chinese to reduce barriers for foreign businesses. the chinese, in turn, agreed to stop flooding global markets with excess steel. there was no progress on the
territorial disputes in the south china sea. here in the u.s., the pacific northwest kicked off a major earthquake and tsunami drill today. the four-day event dubbed "cascadia rising" assumes a catastrophic quake, just 95 miles off the oregon coast. the affected area would include the cities of seattle and portland. both u.s. and canadian agencies are taking part in the drill. >> these type of events are survivable. if you take the time to make some personal preparations, and work with your family and how you're gonna communicate. and then how you're gonna help your neighbors and your community and so forth. that will make probably the biggest difference. >> woodruff: some 20,000 people will be involved in the exercise. on wall street today, the dow jones industrial average gained about 18 points to close at 17,938. the nasdaq fell seven points.
and the s&p 500 added two. and oil closed above $50 a barrel for the first time since july. and, the last surviving 9/11 search dog has died in texas at age 16. in 2001, bretagne, a golden retriever, helped hunt for human remains at the world trade center site. she was euthanized monday at a clinic outside houston, after suffering kidney failure. first responders lined the sidewalk and draped an american flag over bretagne's coffin. still to come on the newshour: six states vote as hillary clinton crosses the delegate threshold, mitch mcconnell on whether donald trump is fit to be president, mafia-linked businesses exploiting migrants in italy, and much more.
>> woodruff: first up, the 2016 contest for president. from one end of the country to the other, it was a day for voting, for delegate-counting, distancing, and a little explaining. >> reporter: how do you think you're going to do today? >> i think we have a shot. >> woodruff: senator bernie sanders making one last round push in california this morning in san francisco. hoping not just for votes, but for an argument to keep his campaign going. overnight, "the associated press" declared hillary clinton now has enough delegates to nail down the democratic nomination. she touted the news in long beach, but urged her supporters not to relax. >> i got to tell you: according to the news, we are in the brink of a historic, historic, unprecedented moment. but we still have work to do, don't we? >> reporter: all told, another 694 delegates are at stake in
the states voting today. bernie sanders also appealed to his voters to disregard the delegate count. >> that's really not accurate. and that's not me talking, that is the democratic national committee who says that the media should not lump together the pledged delegates-- which are real delegates pledged to a candidate -- and super delegates who will not be voting until july 25th, and who have the right to change their mind. >> woodruff: but any way you count delegates, clinton was still well ahead going into even if you don't lump them together, but any way you count the day's primaries. counting just pledged delegates, she led sanders by 291. significantly, if you look just at pledged delegates, the ones sanders sees as real delegates, clinton led sanders by 291 this afternoon. when superdelegates are included, the "associated press" had clinton at the magic number: 2,383-- more than 800 ahead. one of the most prominent super- delegates lined up behind her this morning.
house minority leader nancy pelosi of california officially ended her neutrality, on abc. >> i have voted for hillary clinton for president of the united states, and proud to endorse her for that position. >> woodruff: it is history-- eight years to the day since clinton conceded the nomination in 2008-- to then-senator barack obama. but as camp clinton celebrated today, republican donald trump came under intense new criticism from within his own party. at issue: his claim that a latino judge overseeing a lawsuit against trump university is biased against him. and his claim days later that muslim judges could also be biased. in washington, house speaker paul ryan took trump to task, but stopped short of rejecting the presumptive nominee. >> i disavow those comments, i regret those comments that he made. claiming a person cannot do
their job based on their race is certainly the textbook definition of a racist comment. i think it should be absolutely disavowed, it's absolutely unacceptable. but do i believe that hillary clinton is not the answer. i believe we have more common ground. >> reporter: a former trump rival, south carolina senator lindsey graham, went further, in "the new york times": he said: but in new jersey, governor chris christie-- another former rival and now a trump backer-- came to his defense. >> donald trump is not a racist. so the allegations that he is are absolutely contrary to any
experience i've had with him over the last 14 years. >> reporter: late this afternoon, trump himself has this even as republican u.s. senator mark kirk of illinois reversed his earlier endorsement of the presumptive nominee, announcing that he had "conceded that donald trump has not demonstrated the temperament necessary to assume the greatest office in the world." now, we turn back to the democrats with john yang in santa monica, california, and political director lisa desjardins in brooklyn, new york. thanks to both of you for being here. lisa, to you first. it is an historic moment for hillary clinton, but as we reported, she is telling her supporters not to relax. is that a real worry for them in >> clinton doesn't seem worried about clinching the nomination. in fact, her staff has told me they think tonight is the night, an historic night.
they will proclaim themselves as having clinched the nomination tonight on this stage behind me, but, judy, they want to win california. they want to go into the general election with a sign of strength. losing california would not be such a sign of strengthful right now they're pivoting to going after trump even more. on her schedule, the next two public events are in ohio and in pennsylvania in one week. what's significant about those states, oh, a little thing called "swing voters." those two states will be critical to whomever wins the presidential election in the fall. >> woodruff: john, in california, shoe on the other foot, how concerned are the sanders... is the sanders' camp that their supporters may just fade away if they think this contest is over? >> well, judy, if you go by social media, it may have gone the other way. overnight facebook, twitter full of messages accusing the media of conspiring to suppress the sanders' vote here in california. whether that translates into a big surge or a big turnout for
sanders remains to be seen. there are about... it's hard to judge from the polling places. the estimates are that more than half the ballots cast in today's primary will have been mail-in votes. i've been calling around to very random, unscientific check of polling places, of observe centers northern california, here in the los angeles area, here in santa monica. they say that the polls have been smaller than they were even four years ago when there was no real democratic contest, when the renomination of barack obama. so we'll know in a few hours what the effect is. >> woodruff: interesting. so, lisa, you were saying the clinton folks are focused on what's next. what are you learning about whether her message is changing given the fact that we're at this turning point in the campaign? >> yeah, judy, tonight hillary clinton is going to go all in on
the women message. she's going to debut a video which shows repeated images of women. in fact, looking at this video of women, there's almost no images of men. she's talking about being a woman, promoting women, and about this historic moment tonight for her. it's no secret. she wants to win the presidency with women and also in this video minorities. so she is pivoting fully that way, which is different than in 2008, judy, you remember where she said, i happen to be a woman but i'm not running as a woman. it seems tonight, judy, they're launching a message where she's running full stop as a woman, no doubt about it. and it's a little different. i remember being at that speech eight years ago where she conceded to barack obama. the campaign tonight feels like they want to really flex their muscles and, to be honest, judy, they are expecting senator sanders eventually to be magnanimous. they say they will reach out to sanders voters, but no decision yet on whether he'll be mentioned by name, at least when i talked to staff tonight.
we'll have to wait and see. >> woodruff: john, what are sanders people saying are coming next? everyone wants to know, is he taking this all the way to the convention or not? >> they act knowledge their only path to a until nation is if they convince superdelegates to switch from hillary clinton to support senator sanders. and their argument would be that he is the stronger candidate against donald trump in the fall. they also acknowledge that no super delegates, they cannot name a single superdelegate who has switched. they say that they were hoping obviously for a win in california to bolster that argument. they would also argue they had a west coast sweep, winning washington, oregon state, as well, but they also say that no decisions are going to be made about how to keep going forward until tomorrow after the votes are... the results are known here. they also say that the campaigns have been talking, the two campaigns have been talking at the staff level about the way the move forward, and they
acknowledge those talks will intensify after tomorrow. judy? >> woodruff: well, whatever the delegate count at this point, we are all on the edge of our seats, and we'll be talking to both of you through the night. john yang, lisa desjardins, thanks. now, a different take on the 2016 presidential election. it comes from the senate majority leader, republican mitch mcconnell of kentucky. he has just published his memoir, "the long game", after five terms in the u.s. senate. he is the longest serving senator in kentucky history. i sat down with the senator this morning at the offices of the national republican senatorial committee here in washington. senator mitch mcconnell, thank you very much for talking with us. >> glad to be with you. >> woodruff: we're here the talk about your memoir, "the long game." there's a lot going on right now
at this moment politically. i want to get to that. you write about the people who influenced you. of course, your mother, your father, you write about the senator from kentucky, john sherman cooper, mike mansfield. when you think about these people and their influence in your life, how does donald trump compare? >> well, he's certainly a different kind of person in politics, totally different. the republican voters wanted somebody from outside, and they picked somebody from outside. we'll see in the end whether that works out. they don't seem to be happy with either candidate. they don't care for hillary clinton and they don't care for donald trump, but the american people, at least in the republican primaries and caucuses, clearly wanted somebody totally different, and that's who they nominated. >> woodruff: you mentioned. today we learn that she apparently has done something historic, become first woman to clinch enough delegates to become the nominee of a major political party in this country.
you know her. what do you think of her? >> well, hillary clinton is a very, very experienced insider. so you're going to have a race between the ultimate outsider and a long-term insider. and the american people i think are going to have to make a big decision about whether they're satisfied where the country is now. if they are, then i think hillary clinton will get another four years, and it would be very similar to the last eight. if, on the other hand, the country wants to dramatically go in a different direction, they're certainly going to have the opportunity by voting for donald trump. >> woodruff: you do write all throughout the book about your commitment to racial diversity, among other things about your marriage to elaine chao, who happens to be of chinese heritage. you've been asked in the last few days about what donald trump said about the federal judge of mexican heritage, his denouncing him. you've said you don't in any way
accept what donald trump has said, but when you were asked if it was racist, you didn't answer. now that you've had some time... >> what he said is it was outrageous and inappropriate. i couldn't more strongly condemn that. the implication here is that those who came to america legally over the years are somehow second-class citizens. my wife came here at age eight not speaking a word of english and ended up in the president's cabinet. we all got here from somewhere else going back in our lineage. and i think these gratuitous attacks on americans who got here recently or whose parents got here recently need to stop. >> woodruff: at this point donald trump is doubling down on that statement. he is not backing off of it. if he doesn't back off, what are the implications? >> well, he needs to back off. this is a time he ought to be reaching out and talking about things that the american people
are concerned with, like the slow growth in the country, the lack of opportunity for all of us, the fact that they're falling behind. plenty of things he ought to be talking about rather than taking shots at americans because of their ethnicity. >> woodruff: and again, if he doesn't back off of this and say that it was a mistake, what are the implications? >> well, he needs to quit doing this. this is not the way to bring america together. it's not the way the unify the republican party and it's not the way to win the fall election. >> woodruff: and what if he doesn't? >> it's not the way to win the fall election by doing what he's been doing. it needs to stop. >> woodruff: the "washington post" columnist eugene robinson wrote today that you don't believe donald trump is fit to be president. do you believe he's fit to be president? >> the american people will make that decision. they're in the process of determining who the next president is going to be. and i think, you know, it's been pretty clear that in the right-of-center world, that is the primaries and caucuses,
conducted among republicans, they wanted to do something different, and that's our nominee, and in the fall we'll see what the american people decide. >> woodruff: do you think he's fit to be president? >> i think we need to respect the wishes of voters. they've been busily at work making these decisions in primary after primary after primary. we'll find out in the fall. >> woodruff: do you believe, senator, there's any chance the republicans could choose another nominee at the convention in cleveland? >> i think the nomination fight is over, and our nominee ought to accept that graciously and begin to reach out to other members of our party who did not support him and pull them together and discontinue these attacks on citizens based on their ethnicity. >> woodruff: what has his nomination done to the republican party? >> right now we're in great shape. we have a record number of u.s. house members, 54 senators, 31 governors, more legislators and control of the legislature, too, that at any time since the
'20s. we'd like the keep it that way. the way the finish changing america is to win the white house. i hope we can do it this fall. >> woodruff: senator, people are looking at the character of their two choices this fall, hillary clinton and donald trump. what do they see? what should they see? >> well, we're going the find out this fall. the american people have a big decision to make. they couldn't have two more different candidates than these two. neither one of them are very popular, so it's going to be for many americans a difficult choice. >> woodruff: finally, senator, let's talk about this remarkable book. you write very poignantly about when you were very young having polio, your mother lovingly took care of you. you got through that. and you refer back to it throughout the book. how has that affected your political life and your philosophy? >> it's pound to have had a huge impact. my mother was confronted with a situation. her husband was in europe fighting the germans. she moved to be with her sister
in a rural community in alabama. and there was a big polio epidemic i subsequently found out in 1944. i was one of them. it hits you like the flu, and then when the flu went away, you could have all different kinds of outcomes, from dying to complete recovery. happily enough, we were one hour's drive from warm springs, where president roosevelt had set up the polio treatment center. my mother took me over there. they trained her how to do a physical therapy regiment. do it four times a day. the hard part was don't let him start trying to walk. can you imagine dealing with a two-year-old and subsequently a three-year-old, keeping him off his feet? my first memory in life was the last visit to long springs where they told my mother i was going to be okay, i wouldn't have to wear a brace and i'd have a normal childhood. it had to be an early lesson that tenacity and hard work and sticking to it that i learned
from my mother, and i applied that over and over again throughout my life. >> woodruff: senator mitch mcconnell, the senate majority leader, the book is the long game. it's a memoir and really a wonderful read. thank you, senator. >> thank you. appreciate it. >> woodruff: stay with us. coming up on the newshour: growing outrage over a stanford university student's six-month sentence for sexual assault, and how the debate over transgender students is playing out in one kentucky school. but first, europe's problems in coping with the refugee crisis have taken a new, ominous twist: the involvement of the mafia. authorities in sicily have uncovered a $4 billion fraud scheme involving a reception center for migrants. this comes as humanitarian groups predict a grim summer in
the western mediterranean as thousands of migrants and refugees attempt to reach europe; many have already died. from sicily, special correspondent, malcolm brabant reports. >> reporter: this norwegian tanker pulling into the sicilian port of augusta is a life saver. its crew rescued 220 people whose overcrowded vessel sank off the southern greek island of crete after setting off from egypt. as many as 300 others are feared to have drowned. among them the mothers of two egyptian girls aged three and seven. 80 of those on board the tanker were children. the ruthlessness of the people smugglers in north africa dismays giovanna di benedetto of save the children. >> it's all very dangerous because the people traffickers don't have any respect for human being, for human life, for pregnant women or children or babies. so these people are forced to do
this travel in very dangerous boats. >> reporter: having survived the perilous crossing from north africa, these unaccompanied children are attempting to phone home to let their relatives know they are safe. this eritrean boy begged to use a mobile phone to call his brother in holland. 17-year-old eliyas bahra from eritrea was with six friends on board an unpowered boat that was being towed by another craft. when it began to take on water, the line was cut. this was just one disaster that made may this year one of the deadliest months on record as this footage from the italian navy shows.
>> reporter: these teenagers from gambia in west africa are exploring a town near the center where they are living while their asylum cases are being considered. 17-year-old alieu kah has dreams of furthering his education and following in the footsteps of italian soccer star francesco totti. they've all witnessed too much. >> i saw people shouting in the river. shouting help, help. but we couldn't help them. because our own boat is full. it's around 120 people in our boat. 120 people. i feel very sad because my fellow human beings are dying and i cannot help. it's very sad. >> reporter: the journey to reach sicily was perilous on land as well as sea. they traveled from gambia, through senegal, mali, burkino faso to niger, and then they had to cross the sahara desert to libya where they encountered
violent smugglers who forced the migrants on to overcrowded boats. >> libyan people some are good and some are not good. they shot many of our friends in their legs. they would break all their legs. >> reporter: giuseppe bonanno conti wants to stop the influx. he's a regional leader of a right wing party called new force, and is urging europe to emulate the uncompromising tactics of australia which turned back migrants vessels and eventually deterred boat people coming from south asia. >> ( translated ): our navy should act like australia's. close our sea and not allow anyone in. so that people traffickers realize that no one can enter italy anymore. there would no longer be mass immigration and we would save human lives. in such an awful way, these people are fed to the fish in the mediterranean. >> reporter: listening into the conversation was vincenzo rizzo, who's concerned that sicily has the highest unemployment rate in the european union.
>> ( translated ): the only thing that's planned is for refugees, muslims, and africans. there are no longer laws for italians. nothing to counter unemployment. it's as if italians no longer existed. >> reporter: but these africans feel anything but privileged. the younger ones spend their days cycling around the countryside near europe's largest permanent refugee camp where some of them have been waiting three or four years to find out whether they can stay or will be deported. there's a history of trouble here because frustrations occasionally boil over. the guards are heavily armed. madil sano is an i.t. graduate from senegal who would only allow us to film him in profile. >> ( translated ): this place is appalling. it's like hell. it's a huge prison. they believe that africans are illiterate, that they don't have
an alphabet, that we're like animals. ♪ >> reporter: accordion players strike up the iconic "godfather" theme to remind tourists of sicily's deep rooted mafia connections. across the island small businesses have to pay protection money. the alternative is to have their livelihoods extinguished. there's no doubt that the mafia is involved in most if not all aspects of immigration. this week, the authorities closed down this reception center because they discovered links between the so called non profit organization running it and well known mafia families. the finance police investigated the money trail for supplies of food, clothes and cleaning materials and uncovered a $4 billion fraud. local chief prosecutor francesco paolo giordano is convinced this is just the tip of a mob controlled iceberg. >> ( translated ): the mafia has total control of the territory. it would be absurd not to think they have infiltrated the business of clandestine immigration.
>> reporter: the mafia aside, europe is struggling to cope with the strain of the migration crisis and is doing what it can to stop a repeat of last year's record influx when a million people risked their lives to cross the mediterranean in search of sanctuary or new opportunities. angela lupo, a lawyer with the italian council for refugees is predicting a long fatal summer. >> ( translated ): there will be more and more deaths. the people traffickers are reorganizing themselves to make the highest profit, which is fundamental to them. >> reporter: some migration experts believe these latest disasters in the mediterranean are a consequence of the european union's deal with turkey, which has, for the time being, stemmed the flow of migrants and refugees to greece. the pressure to reach europe has not diminished and so traffickers and their desperate clientele are forced to look for different and more dangerous routes. fate has been kind to these people. after being saved from the deep,
they have the gift of life. but europe's internal borders are being tightened with every passing day. their struggle for a new existence is just beginning. for the pbs newshour, i'm malcolm brabant in siciliy. >> woodruff: now, the sentencing in a sexual assault case at stanford university attracting international outrage. last week, 20-year-old brock turner was sentenced to six months in jail for the assault of an unconscious woman. turner, who was a competitive swimmer with olympic hopes, was convicted on three felony counts including intent to commit rape of an intoxicated woman. the judge-- who said he weighed turner's lack of criminal history and remorsefulness-- gave him a lenient sentence. the unidentified victim read a letter in court that she later released to the news website buzzfeed. it went viral. in it, she wrote, quote:
joining us now is michelle anderson, dean of the school of law at the city university of new york. dean anderson, thank you very much for being here. i want the read just a part of what brock turner's father wrote in a letter to the judge. he said, "this is a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action out of his 20-plus years of life." how does the sentence that 20-year-old brock turner receive to other sexual assault... people who were convicted of sexual assault in similar circumstances? how do they compare? >> well, it's a challenging
question because courts are really all over the map in terms of how they sentence sexual assault. cases like this not infrequently receive very light sentences, sometimes if the circumstances are different they receive heavier sentences. what's interesting about this case is that it's an unusual case in that it's not a he said/she said. it's a case in which the two witnesses found the incident happening as it was occurring and chased the defendant down and held him until the police came. there was physical evidence corroborating the victim's story. so it was unusual in that sense. >> woodruff: the district attorney had argued for six years. as we said, the judge said sick months. what does a judge take into consideration in coming up with sentencing? >> judges frequently take into consideration obviously the prior history of the defendant, whether or not he or she has been convicted of other
offenses. sometimes the age of the defendant and the circumstances of the offense, how much violence was used at the time. these are the kinds of factors that are taken into account. and so taking those factors into account is not unusual. taking into account the duration of time that the father mentioned in his statement would not be something that would necessarily be an ordinary factor that would be assessed. >> woodruff: what about the fact that this 20-year-old man comes from what appears to be an upper middle class background? >> so that's an interesting element of this case. what you've got is a circumstance that does not comport with the stereotype of what many people believe rape is like. it's a white defendant, someone who comes from a privileged background, whatever his financial status before he attended stanford, he certainly
comes from an elite institution, was considered an all-american swimmer, an athlete of great import to the stanford community, and with hopes of becoming an olympic athlete. so those are the kinds of factors i think that color the way that the media and the public have responded to this case, somebody who comes from extraordinary privilege in a case that's fairly straightforward, from... given the fact that there were witnesses and the evidence in the form of corroborative evidence on the victim's body. these are unusual aspects of the case, and the despairty in privilege between the defendant and the victim is also... it heightens the interest in this kind of case. >> woodruff: i want to ask you about the letter the victim read
to the accused. we have... she hasn't been identified, but she read out loud in the courtroom to the accused man. she said, and this is part of it, "i want to show people that one night of drinking can ruin two lives, you and me. you are the cause, i am the effect. you have dragged me through this hell with you, dipped me back into that night again and again. if you think i was spared, came out unscathed, well, today i ride off into the sunset while you sufficient the greatest blow, you are mistaken." what are we left with? we know most victims don't speak out like this. what should we take away from this? >> well, the case is unusual because of the extraordinary articulateness of this particular victim and the fact that she used the opportunity to say some important things about how rape is experienced by its victims. part of the victim's statement that really hit home with me and i think with many other people is the part where she says, i
didn't want my body anymore. and we know that rape and sexual assault can be an invasion of privacy. it can be something that degrades somebody and takes away their dignity, but the notion that it takes away one's possession of one's own body and that one wants to reject one's own body, i found that very powerful, and that quotation has come up and been reposted again and again. >> woodruff: well, it is certainly... this is a case that has certainly left an impact i think on many, many people. dean michelle andeson with the city university of new york law school, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> woodruff: public schools are caught in the middle of a political debate over bathrooms. the obama administration says restricting a transgender student's access to restrooms and locker rooms based on
biological sex is discrimination and can be grounds for withholding funding. but that directive has set off some angry reaction. kentucky is one state where many leaders don't agree with the president. we look at how one school in louisville decided to act proactively before the bigger debate began. special correspondent yasmeen qureshi of education week has the story, part of our weekly education series, "making the grade." >> reporter: what's it like to question your gender? >> it's a little bit scary in the very beginning, i suppose, because you know that you're going to have to face a lot of discrimination. go to the youtube comments on any video about trans people and you'll see just how many people are still openly hostile to this idea. 17-year-old maddie dalton is transgender. she says she's always been a
girl but didn't know it. she came out to her parents when she was 15 years old. >> it was chaotic at first. like, the way i saw it in the very beginning when i was first coming to terms with it was if i had a friend who came to me and said their child had come out as transgender, i would have thought "hurray, this young person is becoming who they are," so why would i not afford my own child that same blessing. so even though it was difficult, it was the only right thing to do. >> reporter: maddie is a junior at atherton high school in louisville, kentucky. she was the first openly transgender student at the school. >> i was a little bit hesitant right at first, but i knew at atherton i would be pretty safe. >> reporter: a public high school with about 1,300 students, atherton is one of the highest ranked schools in the state.
it's known for its international studies program and as a place where diversity is embraced. >> developing a safe climate for students is fundamental and i think that we were doing that here before we ever started on the transgender issue. >> reporter: humanities teacher tony prince supervises the school's l.g.b.t. student group. maddie confided in him about her newly realized gender identity. >> i asked her what that means, what would the school look like to her if it were accepting of her as a transgender person and so she wrote a little list of things. >> i wanted it to be enforced that students and teachers should use my name and pronouns. and to use the space that i identify with, so bathrooms and locker rooms.
>> reporter: atheron didn't have a protocol for transgender students. the decision was left to principal, dr. thomas aberli. >> our school protects all students. and the issue of gender identity has simply been a demonstration of the school's commitment to respecting all individuals in our school. >> reporter: aberli agreed to maddie's requests and, after much consideration, so did the school's council, making it the first school in kentucky to adopt an official policy for transgender students. >> this policy is completely disregarding the privacy of all of our students. >> reporter: a group of parents, students and community members publicly objected and hired an attorney to appeal the decision. >> girls at this school expect to be able to go into a restroom and feel safe. because of this policy, we no longer have that assurance. >> reporter: the group called for transgender students to use a private or unisex bathroom. why would that be a problem for you?
>> first of all, it makes you a target for bullying and harassment. it puts it in everyone's minds that you are different and you are something to be looked at not as a person, but as whatever characteristic is differentiating you, like being trans. >> reporter: after months of debate at atherton high school, the policy was upheld, but the opposition didn't stop there. >> young ladies, girls, may not want a biological male in their bathroom. that's the traditional way we've done things since the founding of this nation. >> reporter: kent ostrander is the director of the family foundation of kentucky, a conservative advocacy organization. last year it supported a statewide bill that would have overtuned atherton's policy. it was never passed into law. >> the legislation simply said that schools could do all kinds of accommodations for
their students, including transgender students. but the one thing that they could not do is mix the biological sexes in a bathroom, a locker room at the same time. >> according to guidelines coming from the u.s. department of education and the u.s. department of justice, that is discrimination. >> reporter: education policy professor suzanne eckes is referring to a letter the obama administration sent to schools last month. it directed them to allow transgender students access to bathrooms and locker rooms based on their gender identity. >> the department has interpreted gender identity to fall under the title ix law, which prohibits discrimination based on sex. we don't have a lot of court guidance on it. if you're in a state that has no litigation on this particular topic, the only thing you really have to go on is the recent dear colleague letter. >> reporter: however, several republican state leaders are advising schools to ignore the guidance, putting them at risk
of losing federal funding. >> why does there have to be a new federal government law telling everybody how they're going to do the bathrooms. that's just crazy. why is the federal government interested in bathrooms? because states can make that decision on their own. parents can make that decision. >> i don't think this is a democrat or republican or liberal or conservative issue. this is a civil rights issue. this isn't a states right issue, this is a civil rights issue. transgender students, for years, have been ostracized in public schools. >> reporter: nearly half of transgender teens report having suicidal thoughts. and their rates of depression and anxiety are far higher than the average. >> good morning, atherton high school. >> reporter: it's been over two years since atherton high school adopted its bathroom policy, and several students at the school have since come out as transgender. principal aberli says that
despite early objections to the policy, most students have embraced it. >> it's just going to the bathroom. you go do your business, then you wash your hands and then you leave, it's just simple. when people make a big deal about it, it just gets blown out of proportion. >> coming from a religious background, like i am christian, people don't necessarily agree with that type of stuff, but i have been going to this school for two years and it's just routine. everyone gets to the restroom, everyone gets out. it's nothing. it's not a big deal. >> something i struggled with originally was just understanding the difference between what it meant to discriminate versus accommodate when it came to this issue. if any student said that they were uncomfortable with using a restroom, then they can choose an alternate restroom. but we're not to compel other people to act differently just because they make someone else feel uncomfortable. that is not what our country is about.
that is not a right to privacy. >> reporter: the school provides access to private faculty restrooms to any student who requests it. >> it all comes down to being respected as a person and accepted. now, that's all relying on the fundamental assumption that you respect being transgender as a legitimate concept, as a legitimate thing, and i think that's where most of the trouble comes in. >> reporter: in louisville, kentucky, this is yasmeen qureshi of education week reporting for the pbs newshour. >> woodruff: we'll be back in a moment. but first, take this time to hear from your local pbs station. it's a chance to offer your support, which helps keep programs like ours on the air.
>> woodruff: for those stations still with us, we turn to a story about music with a purpose and a violinist charting her own musical path. jeffrey brown met up with musician rachel barton pine and has this encore look at how her music is hitting the spirit. ♪ >> brown: it was an unlikely setting for a classical music performance: a homeless shelter, the community for creative non- violence, in the shadow of the nation's capital, where concert violinist rachel barton pine played a special engagement for the residents. there was music from many eras and styles. along the way, pine offered bits of musical history. >> so, mozart was from the late 1700s. >> brown: and told them a bit about herself. >> and we were often one missed
payment away from losing the roof over our heads, which was the scariest thing of all when i was a little kid. >> brown: pine, in fact, knows something of the plight of her audience. her father was mostly unemployed, and the family had to scrape by. >> so, we had these three sort of grocery crates rescued from the garbage and this one little electric heater. and i would rotate it every ten minutes, so that, as part of me was warming up and thawing, another part would be starting to freeze. but we had to do unusual things, like get my concert clothes from a thrift store and try to fix them up to be something presentable for stage. >> brown: these days, pine tours the world a good part of the year, traveling with her husband, greg, who serves as her manager, and their four-year-old daughter. but she feels a pull to give back wherever she goes. >> sometimes, i go to hospitals. i have even been to prisons, and just wherever music can uplift people's spirits. that's the meaning of being a musician. >> brown: but you have a life on the road that is different, in
the sort of traditional performing and then playing in places like this. >> absolutely. well, yes, i think more and more artists, especially with the younger generation, are really understanding the value of community engagement. if we only played for the converted, we would be not honoring our gifts to the fullest extent. >> brown: one spirit lifted today, ray simmons, who told us of falling on hard times and finding hope in pine's music and his own. do you have to hold onto something? >> you have to hold onto something. you have to hold onto your sanity. >> brown: yes. >> yes. >> brown: for you, it sounds like you hold onto your music too. >> i hold onto my music quite often. that's what gets me through, knowing that i'm going to-- yes, i'm going to play my way out and sing my way out of this place, for sure, for sure. >> brown: pine started young. she gave her first recital at age five, played with a professional orchestra at seven, and with one of the great ones, the chicago symphony, in a concert of young performers at age ten.
>> and now super-duper rachel barton makes her debut with the chicago symphony orchestra. ♪ >> brown: in recent years, she formed a foundation to help what she calls poor prodigies with things not covered by traditional scholarships: accompaniment fees, sheet music, transportation to competitions. to date, she's helped 70 young people. another project, global heartstrings, supports aspiring musicians in developing countries such as haiti. >> music programs here in america, we kind of take for granted, like rosin to put on your bow hair, or, you know, a shoulder rest, so that your violin will sit on your body properly. >> brown: at 21, on the brink of a major career, the doors of a chicago commuter train closed on the straps of her violin case, trapping pine.
the train dragged her 200 feet, severing her left leg and mangling her right foot. 50 surgeries later, she walks on a prosthetic leg. >> really, of course, it was a case of corporate negligence, because there had been many, many prior instances before the day that i happened to get hurt. and, thankfully, they have changed their safety procedures. everybody has something they have to deal with, and this just happens to be mine. >> brown: and the concert violinist is also a heavy metal lover and performer, a regular headbanger, here playing metallica's "one." >> so, at first, it was like the mainstream bands, but then i started to get into the classic thrash groups like anthrax, megadeth, slayer, early metallica, pantera, like, this music just grabbed me. it was so intense. >> brown: but you were playing classical music, playing bach during the day, and then at 10:00, you're listening to...
>> anthrax. >> brown: anthrax. >> so, it sounds silly to say i relaxed to this like headbanging metal, but, yes, i could just turn off my brain and rock out. i started playing these things on my instrument and realized, wait a sec, this is actually very sophisticated music. >> brown: for us, she played ozzy osbourne's "crazy train." maybe, pine says, she can help bridge these disparate musical worlds. >> one of my goals has to been to get fellow headbangers out to the symphony. there is nothing more intense than 100 people on stage playing the tchaikovsky violin concerto. and, you know, it's just an experience like none other. ♪ >> brown: a hundred people on stage, or one at a homeless shelter, where rachel barton pine gave residents a taste of
her newly released album, her 30th, called "testament: bach's sonatas and partitas for solo violin." in washington, d.c., i'm jeffrey brown for the "pbs newshour. >> woodruff: you can watch more of rachel barton pine's music including her version of ozzy osbourne's heavy metal song "crazy train" on our website. that's at pbs.org/newshour. and that's the newshour for tonight. on wednesday: as nepal rebuilds from the earthquake a year ago, a report on child labor used in manufacturing bricks. i'm judy woodruff. join us online and again here
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