On Wednesday President Trump rescinded Obama era protections that allowed transgender students access to whichever restroom corresponded with their gender identity as a condition of the education equity guaranteed under Title IX.
In a joint letter from the Department of Justice and Department of Education, the Trump administration claimed that the Obama administration had not sought proper legal analysis or provided appropriate explanation for why these protections were guaranteed under Title IX. The letter added, “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.”
“What could possibly motivate a blind and cruel attack on young children like this?” said President of the Human Rights Campaign Chad Griffin. Griffin continued, “This isn’t a ‘states rights’ issue, it’s a civil rights issue. Children deserve protection from bullying no matter where they live. Period.”
The New York Times argues that Attorney General Jeff Sessions wanted to act quickly to roll back this protection before two pending court cases moved forward, with the result of potentially upholding the protections and forcing the government into further litigation. Many are saying that this quick directive is highlighting the influence that Sessions has in the new Cabinet.
In August, a federal judge in Texas issued a preliminary, nationwide injunction blocking the Obama administration from enforcing the extended Title IX protections for transgender students, after 13 states challenged Obama’s guidelines insisting the administration had gone too far. This injunction is still in place, meaning that the federal government has not been enforcing the Obama administration’s extended Title IX protection.
The ACLU is confident that the case of Gavin Grimm, a 17 year old transgender student who was barred from using the boys’ restroom at his Virginia high school, will move forward successfully in the Supreme Court, where oral arguments are scheduled to begin at the end of March.
A statement from the ACLU’s James Esseks reads, “While it’s disappointing to see the Trump administration revoke the guidance, the administration cannot chance what Title IX means. 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. We’re confident that the law is on Gavin’s side and he will prevail just as he did in the Fourth Circuit.”
According to the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, approximately 150,000 teenagers 13 to 17 identify as transgender. The Boy Scouts of America recently dropped a century-old ban on transgender boys, and will now admit members based on the gender listed by the child or parent on the application, rather than the sex listed on the child’s birth certificate.
Read the 2016 Title IX Obama Administration Dear Colleague Letter and the Department of Education’s Examples of Policies and Emerging Practices for Supporting Transgender Students.
Media Resources: Washington Post 2/22/17; Human Rights Campaign 2/22/17; New York Times 2/22/17; Feminist Majority Foundation 8/22/16, 10/31/16, 2/7/17; NPR 2/22/17; ACLU 2/22/17