Trump Administration Rescinds Federal Guidance Protecting Transgender YouthBy Adam Polaski • February 22, 2017 • 7:25 pm
After the White House all but confirmed yesterday its intention to rescind federal guidance concerning protections for transgender students under Title IX, the administration made the announcement official today. The guidance, which was legally non-binding but based on growing legal precedent, instructed schools on how to comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and instructed schools to allow transgender students access to restrooms that align with their gender identity. The guidance was issued by the Departments of Justice and Education last year.
Matt McTighe, executive director of Freedom for All Americans, released the following statement:
“Today’s action hurts thousands of young people and sends the message that President Trump and his administration do not value the well-being of our country’s transgender students. The guidance was aimed at ensuring transgender students – who already face exponentially higher levels of bullying and harassment than their peers – could participate fully and succeed in school just like their non-transgender peers. Although rescinding the guidance has zero impact on Title IX’s legal requirements, it does signal a disdain for the welfare of transgender youth that directly contradicts President Trump’s previous statements that he supports the fair treatment of LGBT Americans. We strongly urge President Trump to consider the people and families impacted by his policy edicts before taking any additional measures that will harm LGBT Americans.”
School districts across the country encompassing millions of students have had protections in place for transgender students for years without incident, including Los Angeles Unified School District, the largest public school system in California and the second largest public school district in the United States, serving 655,000 students. The administration’s decision to rescind the guidance has no impact on schools that are already doing the right thing – they can and will continue to protect transgender students. Federal laws that are used to protect transgender students have not changed, and school districts across the country must still comply with the law. This means that schools that have protected the rights of transgender students should continue to do so and schools that have discriminated against transgender students will still face liability in court. The meaning of Title IX cannot be changed by the Department of Education, and neither the revocation of the guidance nor the department’s new position alters the substantive protections of the federal statute.
The announcement is at odds with the statements of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who had previously signaled that she does not support singling out any group of students based on who they are, proclaiming, “I believe in the innate value of every single human being and that all students, no matter their age, should be able to attend a school and feel safe and be free of discrimination.”
The Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the historic transgender equality case G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board on March 28. The case is being brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a Virginia transgender boy named Gavin Grimm. Grimm is challenging a policy in his local school district that singles out transgender students for discrimination and prohibits him from using the boys’ restroom at his school. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Gavin last year. It is the first-ever case on transgender rights to go before the Supreme Court.