Published: Thu, February 23, 2017
World Media | By Joan Schultz

Trump to reverse school transgender bathroom rules


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 Supreme Court in March, involving a transgender teenager who was denied bathroom access in Virginia.

"This administration can not strip away the rights of transgender students by retracting the guidance - the issue is before the courts now and the law has not changed", said Vanita Gupta, who was head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division under former President Obama, in a statement.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Mr Trump firmly believed "this is a states' rights issue".

According to copies of the draft obtained by both the Times and the Post, the guidance explains that because of legal challenges brought against the Obama-era guidance by several states, the departments "have chose to withdraw and rescind the above-referenced guidance documents in order to further consider the legal issues involved". DeVos had wanted to keep the Obama administration's language saying that transgender students could use the bathroom of their choice in schools, but Sessions, whose has been criticized over his stance on gay and transgender rights, argued against it, the New York Times reported Wednesday.

The guidelines are nonbinding, but the Obama administration had warned that schools not following them could be found in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination, and face a loss of federal funding.

There are a variety of state laws and policies in place.

LGBTQ groups are particularly concerned that the Trump administration may follow through with such an action.

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The Trump administration will likely leave it up for the states to decide what kind of bathroom bills they will pass.

"The Title IX guidance, widely hailed by educational and child health experts, made clear that transgender students are protected from discrimination and must be treated according to their gender identities", Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement.

This reversal of guidelines for trans students is a blow to advocates working for the rights of transgender individuals, and children in particular.

President Trump's letter rules that schools must protect all students and the withdrawal does not remove the protections from bullying and harassment that exist for all students.

Asked about rumors that Trump intends to withdraw the guidance, Spicer said, "That is an issue that the Department of Justice and the Department of Education are addressing".

The Obama administration contended that the guidance did not constitute new federal regulations or requirements, but simply represented its interpretation of existing law in response to requests for clarity from school districts and state education agencies. Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick equated it to "blackmail" and said at the time that the state was ready to forfeit federal education money rather than comply.

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