February 22, 2017
The Trump administration plans to revoke federal guidelines put out under former President Barack Obama allowing public school students to use restrooms and other facilities that correspond with their gender identity, a White House source said.
The source confirmed to Fox News that the Trump administration will issue new guidance, saying the Trump White House believes this is an issue better left to the states.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer also said at Wednesday’s briefing that President Trump “is a firm believer in states’ rights” and his team will be issuing new guidance on the issue.
Regarding reports that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions have clashed over the forthcoming guidance, Spicer said there is “no daylight” between Trump and his Cabinet on the matter.
The decision, not yet announced, would be a reversal of an Obama-era directive issued in May requiring public schools to grant bathroom access even if the student’s chosen gender identity isn’t the same as what’s in the student’s record.
Although the original guidance carried no force of law, transgender rights advocates say it was necessary to protect students from discrimination. Opponents argued it was overreach.
The Obama administration’s guidance was based on its determination that Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education and activities, also applies to gender identity.
It was not legally binding but sent a warning that schools could lose funding if they did not comply with the administration’s interpretation of the law.
Republicans immediately pushed back, arguing it was an example of federal government overreach and the Obama administration meddling in local matters. Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick equated it to “blackmail” and said at the time that the state was ready to forfeit federal education money rather than comply with the guidance.
A federal judge in Texas put a temporary hold on the Obama-guidance in August after 13 states sued the administration over the requirements.
Amid the looming change, transgender advocates said federal law will still prohibit discrimination against students based on their gender or sexual orientation. Still, they said, rescinding those directives puts children in harm’s way.
Conservative activists hailed the plans to rescind the guidelines, saying those directives were illegal and that they violated the rights of fixed gender students, especially girls who did not feel safe changing or using the restroom next to anatomical males.
Legal experts said the change in position could impact pending court cases involving the federal sex discrimination law, including a case before set to be heard by the Supreme Court in March, involving a transgender teen who was denied bathroom access in Virginia.
The justices could decide not to hear the case and direct lower courts to decide that issue.