Trump Withdraws Title IX Guidance on Transgender Bathroom Policies in Schools
The departments that made the announcement said state’s should have more of a role in determining school bathroom policies.
The administration of President Donald Trump withdrew federal guidance allowing students to use the school bathrooms that match their gender identity in a Dear Colleague Letter issued last night.
The announcement is seen as a major blow for advocates of transgender students, who considered the policy guidance a federal civil rights issue. It serves to repeal guidance issued in May of 2016 under former president Barack Obama that extended Title IX’s reach to protect students on the basis of sexual identity.
Yesterday’s Dear Colleague Letter, issued jointly by the Education and Justice Departments, determined that the issue shouldn’t have been handled by the federal government exclusively.
“The Departments believe that, in this context, there must be due regard for the primary role of the States and local school districts in establishing educational policy,” the letter states.
The letter also faulted 2016’s guidance for not providing “extensive legal analysis” linking its position with Title IX and referenced the ongoing litigation surrounding the guidance.
The federal government hadn’t been able to enforce its guidance since a nationwide injunction was issued by a federal judge in August. The Obama administration challenged that injunction, but the challenge was repealed Feb. 10, one day after Jeff Sessions was sworn in as attorney general.
“In these circumstances, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice have decided to withdraw and rescind the above-referenced guidance documents in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved.”
LGBT student advocates criticized the announcement and argued because Title IX is a federal law it’s interpretation is a federal, not a state, issue.
The interpretation of Title IX may ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court, which is set to hear the case of transgender 17-year-old Gavin Grimm in a lawsuit challenging the bathroom policy of the student’s Virginia school district.
A federal appeals court sided with Grimm in April, deferring to the Obama administration’s guidance.
“When it decided to hear Gavin Grimm’s case, the Supreme Court said it would decide which interpretation of Title IX is correct, without taking any administration’s guidance into consideration,” ACLU Senior Staff Attorney Joshua Block told CNN.
Arguments in the Grimm case are schedules for March 28.
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