The Trump administration issued new guidelines on Wednesday which put an end to Obama’s transgender protection guidance that was designed to reduce anti-transgender prejudice in public schools. What will this mean for transgender students across America?
On Wednesday, the Department of Justice and Department of Education have stated that they “have decided to withdraw and rescind the… guidance documents in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved. The Departments thus will not rely on the views expressed within them.” The Trump Administration wants the policy to be decided at the state and local level.
The government agencies issue a dear-colleague letter to public school officials, according to Buzzfeed News.
“Please note that this withdrawal of these guidance documents does not leave students without protections from discrimination, bullying, or harassment.”
This news is a devastating blow to the Obama administration who worked so hard to issue their transgender discrimination policy last May, which said that a school “must not treat a transgender student differently from the way it treats other students of the same gender identity.”
Transgender students had to be allowed access to their gender-appropriate restrooms and locker rooms.
The Obama administration asserted that Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which banned sex discrimination in public schools, also banned transgender discrimination as a form of sex discrimination.
Trump’s White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, said that the Trump administration was considering abandoning the position on Title IX.
“We have to decide whether or not this administration wants to continue that track that the Obama administration was on.”
However, a new view on the law was not announced. In a statement released on Wednesday evening, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that Obama’s directive “did not contain sufficient legal analysis or explain how the interpretation was consistent with the language of Title IX.”
Sessions suggested that there would be room for amendments in the future adding, “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.
Despite Trump’s administration and the federal government’s new position, states and local school districts are still able to adopt their own transgender-inclusive rules.
Donald Trump’s latest “guidance” will not block individuals or advocacy groups from raising their own complaints that a transgender student’s rights have been violated in federal court.
According to CBS Philly, Philadelphia School Districts will “not change” their policies. Superintendent Dr. William Hite released a statement regarding the reversal on transgender bathrooms.
“The School District of Philadelphia remains a safe and welcoming place of inclusion for all our students. Every student deserves to know their rights will be recognized and upheld at school. This announcement will not change any school district policy or city law that protects our students.”
James Esseks, who oversees the ACLU’s litigation on behalf of a transgender student in Virginia told reporters on Tuesday that “Courts enforce Title IX and courts at the end of the day decide what the scope of Title IX is.
Withdrawing Obama’s transgender discrimination policies was highly expected, considering Donald Trump’s nod to state’s rights on the campaign trail. Press Secretary Sean Spicer also announced that a change in policy was imminent.
The new transgender guidance also coincides with the Justice Department’s decision to step away from defending the guidance in a federal appeals court.
An argument broke out between the factions of the Trump administration when United States Attorney Jeff Sessions pressed to reverse the guidance and ran up against Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, according to a New York Times report on Wednesday.
Both the Justice Department and Education Department, which issued the guidance last year under Obama’s administration, had to concur on any replacement rules.
Trump’s administration’s decision to override the old transgender discrimination school guidelines will most likely have little short-term impact on schools.
However, the new guidelines could neutralize lawsuits from more than a dozen states that had challenged the rules. It could also be an impending factor in a case scheduled before the Supreme Court next month.
The new guidance was submitted to the Supreme Court as an attachment to a letter announcing the move in that case on Wednesday evening.
Education Secretary Devos claimed in a statement that she considered “protecting all students, including LGBTQ students, not only a key priority for the Department, but for every school in America.”
However, Devos added that protecting transgender students was an “issue best solved at the state and local level.”
[Featured Image by Win McNamee/Getty Images]