As feared, the Trump administration has reversed guidelines issued by the Obama administration barring schools from discriminating against transgender students.
On Wednesday, the US departments of education and of justice announced that they had withdrawn the guidelines which said that transgender students must be included among those protected from discrimination on the basis of sex under the 1972 Title IX law.
According to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Obama administration did not legally justify why transgender status should be included under Title IX, adding in a statement that the issue should rather be addressed by states and local governments.
Bizarrely, despite agreeing to drop the guidance, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos insisted that, “I consider protecting all students, including LGBTQ students, not only a key priority for the Department, but for every school in America.”
Under the now withdrawn Obama policy, transgender students at federally funded schools were to have equal access to facilities such as bathrooms and locker rooms that are consistent with their gender identity.
The guidance had already not been implemented since August last year after a federal judge temporarily blocked the decision pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by 13 anti-equality states. It is unclear if the suit will now be scrapped as a result of the withdrawal.
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) described the Trump administration’s decision as “disgraceful” and noted that transgender youth face disproportionately high rates of bullying, harassment and discrimination.
“What could possibly motivate a blind and cruel attack on young children like this?” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “These transgender students simply want to go to school in the morning without fear of discrimination or harassment. The consequences of this decision will no doubt be heartbreaking.”
Griffin argued that the issue isn’t a ‘states rights’ matter, but is a civil rights issue. “Children deserve protection from bullying no matter what state they live in. Period.”