Trump Admin. Withdraws Obama’s Transgender School Bathroom Policy
President Donald Trump fulfilled a campaign promise Wednesday by withdrawing an Obama-era policy instructing public schools everywhere to let transgender students use the restroom of their choice.
The former policy, released in a Dear Colleague letter in 2016, asserted that refusal to comply would be to discriminate on the basis of sex per Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Schools that didn’t comply were threatened with the loss federal funding.
The Trump administration policy reversal, revealed in a Dear Colleague letter issued jointly by current officials of the Justice and Education departments, claims “there must be due regard for the primary role of the States and local school districts in establishing educational policy.”
The letter also stated that the Obama policy 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.”
There won’t be any immediate changes in schools, the Associated Press noted, since Obama’s policy was temporarily blocked by a judge after 13 states sued the federal government last year. Individual schools are still free to implement their own bathroom policies as they have always been.
Move Protects All Students
“This is an issue best solved at the state and local level,” Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said in a statement Wednesday. “Schools, communities, and families can find — and in many cases have found — solutions that protect all students.”
DeVos went on to emphasize the importance of protecting rights and preventing bullying for all students, including those who identify as LGBTQ.
“At my direction, the Department’s Office for Civil Rights remains committed to investigating all claims of discrimination, bullying and harassment against those who are most vulnerable in our schools,” DeVos said.
The Justice and Education departments’ letter also emphasized that the reversal of the Obama-era policy did not leave students who identify as transgender without protection. “All schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment,” the letter stated.
Many LGBT activists still disapproved of Trump’s decision to withdraw the previous policy. “The consequences of this decision will no doubt be heartbreaking,” Chad Griffin, president of the LGBT activist group Human Rights Campaign told The New York Times. “This isn’t a states’ rights issue; it’s a civil rights issue.”
Many conservatives feared that the Obama administration’s policy made it too easy for sexual predators to enter bathrooms and locker rooms, the Times also noted.
Gary McCaleb, senior counsel for the conservative law firm Alliance Defending Freedom, praised Trump’s reversal: “No longer will federal officials distort federal law that is meant to equalize educational opportunities for women, and no longer will they force local officials to intermingle boys and girls within private areas like locker rooms, showers, hotel rooms on school trips and restrooms.”