How Donald Trump Screwed Up Bathroom Access for Transgender Students

How Donald Trump Screwed Up Bathroom Access for Transgender Students

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Yesterday, the Trump Departments of Justice and Education issued a guidance that contradicted an Obama-era one instructing federally funded public schools to let transgender students use the bathroom matching their gender identity. The 2016 Obama guidance cited Title IX of the 1972 Education Amendments Act as requiring schools to provide equal access to public school facilities regardless of gender. However the Trump administration’s issued yesterday’s new guidance “in order to further and more completely consider” whether Title IX protects gender identity and expression.

The differences between the guidances

Ilona Turner, Legal Director of the Transgender Law Center helps explain Obama’s and Trump’s actions:

Some schools haven’t always understood what their legal obligations are, which is why the U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice last spring sent a “Dear Colleague Letter” to every school district in the country reminding them that Title IX protects trans students. The guidance pointed administrators to examples of policies already in place in school districts in every corner of the nation about how to treat trans students fairly.

Wednesday, government officials appointed by President Trump rescinded that guidance, via a new “Dear Colleague Letter” to schools. The Trump Administration calls this an issue of “states’ rights,” but in fact states and school districts do not have the ability to disregard federal nondiscrimination laws like Title IX. Every state is required to follow those baseline laws that protect every student’s right to a fair and equal education.

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What affect will this have?

While the new guidance will embolden school officials to limit trans access into bathrooms and locker rooms, trans students and their supporters should hold fast to the fact that schools are still legally required to follow Title IX as federal law.

It remains to be scene whether Trump’s action will have any influence on the upcoming Supreme Court case on trans restroom rights, a case that will also help decide the constitutionality of North Carolina’s transphobic HB2 bathroom bill, a law requiring trans people to use bathrooms matching the gender listed on their birth certificates.

Three other things worth noting

First, Trump’s transphobic guidance comes less than a day after 24-year-old trans woman Keke Collier was murdered in Chicago. Second, Jackie Evancho, one of Trump’s inauguration performers who has a transgender sister, has asked to speak with the White House about how their new guidance will affect trans people. And third, Trump was actually visiting a Civil Rights museum yesterday while his administration was busy working against trans civil rights. This guy…

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