The Trump administration acted Wednesday night to protect the privacy and safety of school children, rescinding the Obama administration’s radical “bathroom mandate.” At issue was a “guidance letter,” sent by the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice under the Obama Administration that had essentially directed all public schools, colleges, and universities across the U.S. to allow students to use the bathrooms, locker rooms, showers and dormitories consistent with their gender identity or risk the loss of federal funding. The Obama administration based this position on its interpretation of the word “sex” in federal anti-discrimination laws to include “gender identity.”
The Trump administration issued its own guidance letter yesterday and found the earlier “guidance documents 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.” In a joint letter from the current Department of Justice and Department of Education, the administration noted that the Obama interpretation “has given rise to significant litigation regarding school restrooms and locker rooms” and that “there must be due regard for the primary role of the States and local school districts in establishing educational policy.” Ultimately, the new letter concluded, “the Department of Education and the Department of Justice have decided to withdraw and rescind the [Obama guidance] in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved.”
This could have legal implications on both the state and national level. On the state level, this decision could signal an end to the U.S. Justice Department’s lawsuit against North Carolina’s House Bill 2. Much of that case was built around the Obama Administration’s interpretation of “sex,” which has now been rescinded. Likewise, the case of Gloucester County School Board v. G.G, which has oral arguments scheduled next month before the U.S. Supreme Court, could be affected. This case deals with similar legal questions concerning transgender bathroom access in Virginia public schools.
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