The Trump administration is set to rescind guidance issued under President Obama on equal treatment of transgender students in public schools, the Washington Blade reports.
Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, told the Blade today that reliable sources have informed her the Departments of Education and Justice will send a letter Tuesday withdrawing the guidelines.
“This is the first day of the president’s second month in office and he is now fully coming after LGBT people,” she told the paper. “I’m angry; I’m outraged. This is about kids who just want to go to school who just want to be themselves, and to hear the president a week or two ago talk about how supportive he is of LGBT people, it’s just outrageous that he go after trans kids this way.”
The Blade was unable to obtain comment on the report from the White House or either of the departments.
Under Obama, the Education and Justice Departments issued the guidelines last year, saying among other things that transgender students should be called by their preferred names and pronouns, and have access to the restrooms, locker rooms, and other single-sex facilities that correspond with their gender identity. The guidelines are nonbinding, but the Obama administration had warned that schools not following them could be found in violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination, and face a loss of federal funding. During Obama’s presidency, the departments held that Title IX covers discrimination based on gender identity.
Several states have sued the federal government over the guidelines. A judge last year put a nationwide hold on the directive, and the Obama administration had asked that the hold apply only to the states involved in the lawsuit. New U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, however, recently withdrew that request, a move denounced by hundreds of parents of transgender children in a recent open letter to Donald Trump.
During the presidential campaign, Trump had pledged to rescind the guidelines but claimed he would still protect all people from discrimination. Sessions, who has a strongly anti-LGBT record, had promised during his confirmation hearings to fight discrimination in general, as did the new Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who has been quiet on LGBT issues despite her family members’ connections to several antigay groups and causes. Last week, a group of LGBT employees in the Education Department sent a letter to DeVos urging her to protect LGBT students.
Keisling told the Blade that even if the Trump administration rescinds the guidelines, she will still encourage students who have encountered discrimination to sue under Title IX. “It’s Title IX that protects us, not Donald Trump or Attorney General Sessions agreeing with us on Title IX,” she said.
The Supreme Court next month will hear that type of discrimination case, brought by Gavin Grimm, a transgender Virginia teen who sued his school district after it denied him access to the boys’ restroom.
The Human Rights Campaign denounced the administration's reported plan, issuing a statement Monday evening. “Transgender young people face tragically high rates of discrimination and bullying, and they need a government that will stand up for them — not attack them,” said HRC president Chad Griffin. “It's shocking that this kind of harm would even be a subject of debate for the president. We call on Trump to immediately and permanently affirm the Obama administration’s guidance and protect transgender students.”