In a letter jointly signed by the Education and Justice Departments on Wednesday, the Trump administration rescinded a directive given to public schools during the Obama era to allow students to use sex-segregated facilities according to their gender identity.
The Obama administration issued the directive in 2016, saying that the non-discrimination clauses in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 protect students from discrimination on the basis of sex, which they interpreted to include gender identity.
The Trump administration said in the letter that the directive “do not … 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 goes on to say that the administration decided to rescind the directive “in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved. The Departments [of Justice and of Education] thus will not rely on the views expressed within them.”
Though the Obama-era directive did not add any additional rules or regulations, it sparked much debate as activists on both sides of the aisle marked its significance. LGBT activists argued that the directive gave further protections for transgender students, while conservatives argued that it was an overreach in interpreting the law and violated the privacy of students.
“Trump’s actions do not change the law itself — transgender students remain protected by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 — but abandoning the guidance intentionally creates confusion about what federal law requires,” said Rachel B. Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal.
“This move is good for parents and good for families,” said Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention. “Children are not pawns of the state to be used to advance the latest fashionable ‘right side of history’ cause. Christians must continue to insist that the worldview of the sexual revolution harms men and women and advocate for the inherent dignity of all.”
After the Obama administration directive was issued in May 2016, a dozen states sued the Department of Justice and the Department of Education, and a Texas judge temporarily blocked the directive from taking effect in August.
However, a federal appeals court referred to the Obama administration’s bathroom directive when ruling in favor of a teenager who sued his school district for prohibiting him from using the restrooms according to his gender identity. Oral arguments regarding this case involving teenager Gavin Grimm are scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court on March 28. The newly issued letter by the Trump administration may affect the high court’s decision on the case.