Last evening, the Trump administration officially rescinded protections for transgender students put in place by Barack Obama.
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) February 23, 2017
In May 2016, President Obama and the departments of Education and Justice issued guidance to public schools that Title XI’s prohibitions on sex discrimination meant trans students must be allowed to use facilities that match their gender identity. While more than a dozen states sued over the directive, U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor issued an injunction blocking its enforcement.
Earlier this month, the White House withdrew a request to limit O’Connor’s ruling, but Wednesday’s announcement makes the issue moot.
In a “Dear Colleague” letter to schools, the administration said the guidance did not “explain how the position is consistent with the express language of Title IX, nor did they undergo any formal public process.”
The letter insisted, however, that “withdrawal of these guidance documents does not leave students without protections from discrimination, bullying, or harassment.”
“As President Trump has clearly stated, he believes policy regarding transgender bathrooms should be decided at the state level,” the White House said in a statement.
“The joint decision made today by the Department of Justice and the Department of Education returning power to the states paves the way for an open and inclusive process to take place at the local level with input from parents, students, teachers and administrators.”
No alternative plan for supporting the rights and needs of transgender students has been put forward by the White House.
Surprisingly, sources indicate Education Secretary Betsy DeVos opposed the plan to rescind Obama’s guidelines. DeVos said the administration has “a responsibility to protect every student in America and ensure that they have the freedom to learn and thrive in a safe and trusted environment.”
“This is not merely a federal mandate, but a moral obligation no individual, school, district or state can abdicate,” she said in a statement. “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.”
CNN reports DeVos was summoned to the White House on Tuesday and was told to agree to the plan. “When the President tells you to do something you don’t want to do, that is a hard spot to be in,” a source told the network.