Metro Weekly

White House spokesman: Transgender bathroom access is a state’s rights issue

Trump administration signals it plans to rewrite nationwide guidance on transgender student protections

Sean Spicer – Photo: The White House.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer confirmed that Trump administration officials plan to issue new guidance on protections for transgender students in schools, reports the Washington Examiner

That new guidance would reverse previous strides taken by the Obama administration last year to allow transgender students equal access to school resources, as well as to facilities that match their gender identity. By eliminating national, across-the board standards, students’ ability to access such facilities will be left in the hands of state and local lawmakers or individual school districts. 

“That’s an issue that the Department of Justice, the Department of Education are addressing, and I think there will be further guidance coming from DOJ in particular, with respect to not just the executive order but the case that’s in front of the Supreme Court,” Spicer said, referencing the case of Gavin Grimm, who is suing his school district for violating his rights under Title IX when they barred him from using the boys’ restroom.

“The president has maintained for a long time that this is a state’s rights issue and not one for the federal government,” Spicer added. “So while there will be further guidance coming out on this, I think that all you need to do is look at what the president’s view has been for a long time.”

The Trump administration’s distancing of itself from the Obama educational guidance comes just a week after the Department of Justice declined to continue the fight against a nationwide injunction that prevents the federal government from compelling local school districts to treat transgender students according to their gender identity. LGBTQ groups and parents of transgender children are dismayed at what they see as attempts by the Trump administration to erode progress on transgender equality measures.

The National Center for Transgender Equality said in a statement that it was “alarmed” by the rejection of the Obama-era guidance, saying reversing it would “expose hundreds of thousands of transgender students to what amounts to federally-sanctioned bullying.”

“This is about justice, it’s about what’s right, and it’s about our children,” Mara Keisling, the executive director of NCTE, said in a statement. “If this Administration truly wants America to be great, it can start by making it a place in which our children needn’t fight every day just to be themselves.”

“The Trump administration has claimed to be champions of LGBTQ equality, but any refusal to stand up for the fair treatment of transgender students is a reversal of that commitment,” Rebecca Isaacs, executive director of Equality Federation, said in a statement, adding that federal law protecting transgender students from discrimination will not change even if the White House changes its stance and revokes the guidance.

“[Trump,] Pence, Sessions and DeVos are chomping at the bit to weaken our nation’s public school system, and, in this instance, have reportedly sought to remove the few protections young transgender students have,” added Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force. “It’s shameful and we are not going to stand for it. Anyone who agrees that trans and gender-nonconforming students deserve equity in our nation’s schools should join us in calling on this administration to stop working to undermine these protections.”

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