February 2017

CBS News announced tonight, “President Donald Trump’s administration on Wednesday reversed Obama-era policies requiring that public schools allow transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity. It will now be up to states and school districts to interpret whether federal sex discrimination law applies to gender identity.”

The letter to schools from the U.S. Department of Justice, dated February 22, 2017, reads:
Dear Colleague:

The purpose of this guidance is to inform you that the Department of Justice and the Department of Education are withdrawing the statements of policy and guidance reflected in…Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students jointly issued by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and the Department of Education dated May 13, 2016.

These guidance documents take the position that the prohibitions on discrimination “on the basis of sex” in Title IX …require access to sex-segregated facilities based on gender identity. These guidance documents do not, however, contain extensively legal analysis or explain how the position is consistent with the express language of Title IX, nor did they undergo any formal public process.

This interpretation has given rise to significant litigation regarding school restrooms and locker rooms…

In addition, the Departments believe that, in this context there must be due regard for the primary role of the States and local school districts in establishing educational policy. In these circumstances, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice have decided to withdraw and rescind the above-referenced guidance documents in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved. The Departments thus will not rely on the views expressed within them.

Please note that this withdrawal of these guidance documents does not leave students without protections from discrimination, bullying, or harassment. All schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment…

A statement from Americans Defending Freedom (ADF), explains further:

“By unlawfully adding gender identity to Title IX, the prior administration demanded that all schools receiving federal funds must allow students who profess a gender identity that conflicts with their sex to access overnight facilities, locker rooms, and restrooms designated for the opposite sex. In other words, schools were forced to permit students who are male but profess a female identity to share lodging and shower facilities with female students.

“This federal overreach was illegal. Alliance Defending Freedom has a number of ongoing lawsuits that aim to stop the feds from rewriting Title IX and local school boards from violating the dignity and privacy rights of their students.

“By overturning the prior administration’s power grab, President Trump has enabled local school boards once again to protect the dignity and privacy rights of all their students.

“President Obama had put schools to an impossible choice: sacrifice the dignity and privacy rights of their students by opening overnight facilities, locker rooms, and restrooms to the opposite sex; or protect those rights while watching the government strip away federal funding that schools spend on critical items like special-education programs and lunches for underprivileged children. This dilemma, thanks to President Trump’s actions, is gone.

“So now is the time for action by school boards that caved to the prior administration’s demands. They should undo their policy changes and take steps to protect the dignity and privacy rights of all their students.

“Local schools (not the federal government) are in the best position to devise effective policies that (1) respect and value students who are struggling with gender-identity issues and (2) protect the vital privacy interests of students who are understandably uncomfortable sharing overnight facilities, locker rooms, or restrooms with people of the opposite sex. Many options are available, like providing private, single-user facilities for students struggling with gender-identity issues. School board members are once again free to work out these sensitive issues at the local level—where they belong.”

One of those ADF lawsuits is in Virginia, MN where last school year, a 9th grade boy who is presenting as a girl began sharing the girls’ locker rooms. Parents filed a lawsuit against the school. That case is currently on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court can rule on a similar case in a Gloucester, VA school district. It is not immediately clear whether the Gloucester, VA lawsuit will move forward with the reversal of the Obama mandate.

If your school district implemented policies that violate the privacy and dignity of students in bathrooms, showers, and locker rooms, claiming that the Obama administration’s transgender mandate required them to do so, contact your school board members immediately to have that policy reversed. The Obama mandate is no longer in force.