The Trump administration will revoke federal guidelines that tell public schools to let transgender students use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their chosen gender identity, the White House said on Feb. 22.
The decision would be a reversal of an Obama-era directive advising public schools to grant students access to facilities in line with their expressed gender identity and not necessarily the gender on their birth certificate.
A government official with knowledge of the plans told The Associated Press that the Obama-era guidance would be rescinded, but anti-bullying safeguards would not be changed.
The Obama administration’s guidance was based on its determination that Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education and activities, applies to gender identity.
While not legally binding, the guidance sent a warning that schools could lose federal funding if they did not comply.
Republicans have pushed back, arguing that the federal effort was an example of the Obama administration meddling in state and local matters, and in August 2016, a federal judge in Texas put a temporary hold on the Obama guidance after 13 states sued.
The Washington Post first reported the Trump administration’s plans and LGBT rights groups have been rallying the community to protest for several days.
“By rescinding these protections, the Trump administration is compromising the safety and security of some of our most vulnerable children,” said American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. “Reversing this guidance tells trans kids that it’s OK with the Trump administration and the Department of Education for them to be abused and harassed at school for being trans.”
Legal experts said the change in position could impact pending court cases involving the federal sex discrimination law, including a case set to be heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in March, involving a transgender teen who was denied bathroom access in Virginia.
Here’s more reaction to the development…
OutServe-SLDN executive director Matt Thorn: “This action also strikes in contradiction to first lady Melania Trumps’ mission to eradicate bullying and marginalization of our youth in this country. This rescission directly and emphatically opens the door for discrimination and bullying of already vulnerable students who need nurturing and protection.”
GLSEN executive director Dr. Eliza Byard: “While the Trump administration may abandon transgender students, GLSEN never will. This guidance was developed and issued to support transgender students because the reality is that transgender students are far more likely to face severe violence and discrimination at school than their peers, placing them at greatly increased risk of suicide and self-harm as a result. When students are allowed to be themselves, they thrive. This guidance changes and saves lives and hurts no one. It should not be withdrawn.”
Rea Carey, executive director, National LGBTQ Task Force: “Protecting those who are the most vulnerable in our education system should always be a top priority for any President of the United States and his cabinet. Their jobs should be to ensure that all students regardless of race, religion, gender, socioeconomic background, sexual orientation or gender identity and expression, receive a top notch education. But Trump isn’t any president: he, Pence, Sessions and DeVos are chomping at the bit to weaken our nation’s public school system and in this instance have reportedly sought to remove the few protections young transgender students have. It’s shameful and we are not going to stand for it. Anyone who agrees that trans and gender nonconforming students deserve equity in our nation’s schools, should join us in calling on this administration to stop working to undermine these protections.”
NEA president Lily Eskelsen García: “Every student matters, and every student has the right to feel safe, welcomed, and valued in our public schools. This is our legal, ethical and moral obligation. The Trump administration’s plans to reverse protections for transgender students by rescinding the Title IX guidance, is dangerous, ill-advised, and unnecessary.
“We reject this discriminatory plan because it is a drastic departure from our core values. We don’t teach hate, we do not tell people how to pray, and we do not discriminate against people based on their religion, gender, or identity. Period.
“As the Trump administration threatens our students and our values, we will double-down on our efforts to protect our most vulnerable citizens, including our LGBTQ students and members. We urge more states, school districts, and schools to adopt protections for transgender students. We owe to our students because they need to see us take a bold stand against discrimination whatever form it takes.”