The federal government has canceled a request to an appeals court judge asking for the Obama administration’s guidance on bathrooms to remain in place for several states.
The withdrawal was filed on February 10 to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
In 2016, the Obama administration issued a guidance to all public schools, directing them to allow students to use bathrooms according to their gender identity.
However, 13 states sued the administration, during which case a federal judge ruled in the suing states’ favor and forbid schools across the country from applying the guidance. The Obama administration thereafter appealed, and asked the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals to allow the directive to apply to all other states except for the 13 which sued the government. The hearing on that latter request was scheduled to take place on February 14, but the current Department of Justice withdrew that request.
The Trump administration has previously shown support for the LGBTQ community, and has stated on January 30 that it would continue protections placed by the Obama administration for LGBTQ federal workers. LGBT community activists have expressed concern that the federal government is taking a step back from its support.
“Our concern is that it’s a very clear signal that at a minimum the Department of Justice — and possibly more broadly throughout the Trump administration — will not protect transgender students,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the Human Rights Campaign.
The Human Rights Campaign and other LGBT rights organizations sent a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Monday asking them to keep the Obama administration bathroom directive.
“Each of these guidance documents is based on years of careful research to accurately reflect a substantial body of case law and proven best practice from schools across the country,” the organizations state in the letter.
Meanwhile, conservatives like Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council lauded the move.
“The Trump administration is right to stop the legal defense of an indefensible edict that violates the rights of parents and the privacy of schoolchildren nationwide,” Perkins stated. “While this is a welcome first step, we are hopeful that the Trump administration will formally withdraw the Obama edict so that parents and schools will remain free to protect the privacy and safety of every student.”