The Trump Administration has withdrawn transgender guidance issued to U.S. schools under President Obama calling on all U.S. school districts to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms they choose.
In a two-page “Dear Colleague” letter to public schools, the Trump administration said the existing guidance did not “contain extensive legal analysis or explain how the position is consistent with the express language of Title IX, nor did they undergo any formal public process.”
The letter — which does not offer new guidance but simply withdraws the Obama administration policy — says there must be “due regard” for the role of states and local school districts in shaping education policy in schools.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions released a statement:
The Department of Justice and the Department of Education today withdrew guidance for educational institutions, issued in 2015 and 2016, that took the position that the prohibitions in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and implementing regulations against discrimination on the basis of sex require access to sex-segregated facilities on the basis of gender identity rather than biological sex. Attorney General Jeff Sessions issued the following statement:
“The Department of Justice has a duty to enforce the law. The prior guidance documents did not contain sufficient legal analysis or explain how the interpretation was consistent with the language of Title IX. The Department of Education and the Department of Justice therefore have withdrawn the guidance. Congress, state legislatures, and local governments are in a position to adopt appropriate policies or laws addressing this issue. The Department of Justice remains committed to the proper interpretation and enforcement of Title IX and to its protections for all students, including LGBTQ students, from discrimination, bullying, and harassment.”
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released a statement:
— USC (@AlumniUSC) February 23, 2017
Lambda Legal reacts:
The U.S. Department of Education today rescinded the Obama administration’s 2016 Title IX guidance clarifying the rights of transgender students. Rachel B. Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal, the nation’s oldest and largest LGBT legal organization, released the following statement:
“We all know that Donald Trump is a bully, but his attack on transgender children today is a new low. The U.S. Department of Education’s decision to withdraw guidance clarifying the rights of transgender students endangers the well-being and safety of children across the country.
“Trump’s actions do not change the law itself—transgender students remain protected by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972—but abandoning the guidance intentionally creates confusion about what federal law requires. The law bars discrimination – the new administration invites it.
“Betsy DeVos became Education Secretary just one week ago. At her brief confirmation hearing she publicly committed to protecting LGBT students – this harms them.
“Over the past week Donald Trump has attacked perhaps the two most vulnerable groups of children in America:transgender children and refugee children. While his Education Secretary was busy withdrawing protective guidance for trans kids, his Homeland Security Secretary signed memos that strip legal protections from children who arrive alone at our borders, seeking refuge.
“Now Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary DeVos give us sickening echoes of the racially segregated schools era by claiming that enforcement of this federal civil rights law is a ‘states’ rights issue.’ This is not just a bizarre misunderstanding. We recognize that language. This is a cynical rejection of the federal government’s responsibility to enforce federal law protections for vulnerable students.
“While the Trump/Pence administration wages its War on Children, Lambda Legal will redouble our efforts to protect transgender and other vulnerable kids. At Lambda Legal, we are already in court fighting for transgenderstudents, and we are prepared to sue any school district that discriminates in the wake of the Trump administration’s actions today.”