Trump Administration Withdraws Transgender Students' Use Of Restrooms Based On Gender Identity

ReutersA gender-neutral bathroom is seen at the University of California, Irvine in Irvine, California.

The Trump administration has decided to withdraw earlier policies set by the Obama administration with regard to transgender students' use of school facilities, reports say.

In a Dear Colleague letter released Wednesday to be sent to all public schools nationwide, officials from the Education Department and the Department of Justice said they are rescinding earlier guidance documents from the Obama administration allowing transgender students to use restrooms specific to their gender identity.

Both departments gave several reasons for the decision to withdraw the policy contained in the documents, issued on January 7, 2015 and May 13, 2016.

First, the officials said both documents fail to present "extensive legal analysis" or an explanation as to how the guidance aims to comply or abide with Title IX, the law that protects people from discrimination based on sex.

Second, the documents led to several legal actions. While the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled that "sex" can be defined ambiguously and interpreted according to one's gender identity, another federal district court in Texas ruled that "sex" simply refers to one's biological sex, the sex assigned at birth. The Texas court added that formal rule-making should be done before enforcing any policy.

Third, both departments agree that the documents did not undergo the formal public process of enforcing policies. They said the role of the States and district schools in establishing educational policies should be given due respect.

Betsy DeVos, current Education Secretary, told the Washington Post that this issue is "best solved at the state and local level." She said schools, families, and communities can find solutions that benefit all students.

Both departments explicitly note that the withdrawal of transgender students' permission to use restrooms according to the gender they identify with does not mean anybody can discriminate, bully, or harass them. The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights said it will continue to protect all students, including LGBT students, from discrimination, bullying, and harassment.

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