Trump administration nixes transgender bathroom guidelines, calls it a state issue

There are no longer federal consequences for not letting transgender students use restrooms that match their gender identity.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

President Donald Trump's administration announced Wednesday evening it is getting rid of federal guidelines requiring schools to let students use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities.

The guidelines were put into place last May by the Obama administration. It said public school districts and colleges must adhere to the guidelines or risk losing federal funding.

The Trump administration sent a two-page letter to schools Wednesday informing them it had lifted the bathroom rules.

Basically, the administration is saying the bathroom guidelines it inherited aren't clear enough.

"These guidance documents do not, however, contain extensive legal analysis or explain how the position is consistent with the express language of Title IX, nor did they undergo any formal public process," the letter reads. "This interpretation has given rise to significant litigation regarding school restrooms and locker rooms."

The letter went on to say "there must be due regard" for states and school districts having a say in educational policies.

So the letter isn't saying schools can't still adhere to the previous policies. However, if a school or state doesn't want to allow transgender students to use the restroom that fits their gender identity, the school won't have any federal consequences.

"Congress, state legislatures, and local governments are in a position to adopt appropriate policies or laws addressing this issue," Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.

At the end, the letter articulates that schools are still required to keep students safe and protect them from bullying, harassment or discrimination.

Response

There's been a lot of backlash on social media since the announcement.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights also issued a statement saying it condemns the "lawless shift in federal policy."

The center goes as far as to say the decision was "driven by the anti-LGBT agenda of Vice President Pence and Attorney General Sessions."

The American Civil Liberties Union tweeted out support to transgender students, saying "we at the ACLU won't stop fighting for you."

What this means for Minnesota

Sen. Al Franken issued a statement saying the Trump administration's action "is callous and mean-spirited, and it sends a terrible message to LGBT children and their parents."

Franken went on to say he will continue to fight for transgender students' rights in schools.

"But let’s be clear, rescinding the guidelines doesn’t change the law, nor does it take away students’ rights," the senator explained, noting Title IX and the Constitution still protect students from discrimination.

While there's no word yet on whether there will be any big changes in Minnesota, there is a lawsuit that could potentially be affected.

Last year, a lawsuit was filed against Virginia School District in northern Minnesota regarding a transgender student (born male but identifies as female) who reportedly behaved inappropriately in a locker room with other girls.

In December, the lawsuit was put on hold to see what happens in a similar case that's heading to the Supreme Court.

Next Up

Related