DOJ Ends Challenge to Transgender Title IX Injunction

Published: February 14, 2017

An injunction that blocks Title IX protections for transgender students will not be challenged after the Department of Justice withdrew its appeal Friday.

The announcement means that under federal law schools will still not be required to provide students with access to bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity. It also shows a difference in Title IX stances between former President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump.

Under the Obama administration, Title IX guidance was issued stating that sex discrimination includes discrimination based on gender identity. That interpretation, issued in a May 2016 Dear Colleague Letter, allowed transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice or for schools to create separate facilities for those students.

Three months after that Dear Colleague Letter, Federal Judge Reed O’Connor issued an injunction blocking the Title IX guidance nationwide. The injunction was a response to a lawsuit filed by more than a dozen states.

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The Obama administration appealed that injunction and requested that it only be applied to the states named in the lawsuit, according to the New York Times. That legal effort was set to begin today with oral arguments from both sides.

But the withdrawal of the appeal means the injunction will stay in place.

“The parties are currently considering how best to proceed with this appeal,” the Department of Justice said in a U.S. Court of Appeals legal brief.

RELATED: Judge Upholds Transgender Bathroom Directive in Appeal by Ohio School District

The announcement shows a major change in the executive government’s stance on transgender rights in schools.

During the Obama administration, the federal government had challenged a North Carolina law requiring students to use bathrooms that match their biological sex and warned that schools must follow its Title IX guidance “as a condition of receiving federal funds.”

But the DOJ’s change of course suggests Trump’s administration doesn’t agree with the Dear Colleague Letter outlining transgender student’s rights. It also further revealed the leanings of controversial new U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was sworn in Thursday.

“While the immediate impact of this initial legal maneuver is limited, it is a frightening sign that the Trump administration is ready to discard its obligation to protect all students,” says Mara Keisling, the executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality. “Transgender students are not going away, and it remains the legal and moral duty of schools to support all students.”

The announcement also comes after the U.S. Supreme Court said it will see the case of transgender student Gavin Grimm. In a lower court, Grimm won a lawsuit against his Virginia school district that granted him access to bathrooms that match his gender identity.

That ruling was appealed by the school district, and the Supreme Court announced it will hear the case Feb. 3. The proceedings will likely take place sometime this year.

Read Next: 2 Lawmakers Vow to Reduce Role of Dept. of Ed. on Campuses

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