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<span class="articleLocation”>Republican President Donald Trump’s
administration was expected to revoke landmark guidelines issued
to public schools in defense of transgender student rights,
according to a draft document seen on Wednesday by Reuters.
The draft reverses former Democratic President Barack
Obama’s signature initiative on transgender rights, which
instructed public schools to allow transgender students to use
the bathrooms matching their gender identity. (Read the draft
“I would expect further guidance to come out on that today,”
White House spokesman Sean Spicer told a news briefing on
The draft document, a joint effort of the Justice and
Education departments, could be subject to change before it is
sent to schools across the country.
Its issuance was delayed by a disagreement between two
members of Trump’s Cabinet, with Attorney General Jeff Sessions
pushing for a repeal of the Obama guidance and Education
Secretary Betsy DeVos resisting, according to advocacy groups
that have been in contact with administration officials.
Spicer, however, denied any serious division, saying, “There
is no daylight between anybody, between the president, between
any of the secretaries” and that DeVos was in agreement “100
The document states that its purpose is to withdraw the
guidance of May 13, 2016, while Trump’s Justice and Education
departments “further consider the legal issues involved.”
Last year’s guidance, issued by Obama’s Justice and
Education departments, threatened to withhold federal funding if
schools forced transgender students to use bathrooms
corresponding to their gender assigned at birth against their
Conservatives have raised fears about men or boys claiming
to be transgender in order to spy or prey on women or girls in
Under the new guidelines, public schools could set their own
rules without fear of losing federal funds or a lawsuit from the
During the election campaign, Trump at first said
transgender people should be able to use the bathroom they feel
is appropriate, but changed tack after coming under criticism
from fellow Republicans, saying it should be a matter for states
On Tuesday, that “states’ rights” position was repeated by
White House spokesman Spicer. His comments were immediately
criticized by transgender legal advocates, who say federal law
and civil rights are matters for the federal government to
enforce, not the states.
The federal law in question, known as Title IX, bans sex
discrimination in education. But it remains unsettled whether
Title IX protections extend to a person’s gender identity. The
U.S. Supreme Court could settle the issue in a case due to be
argued in March.
The draft document challenges the Obama interpretation that
Title IX protects gender identity, saying it has “given rise to
significant litigation” and has confused educators who have “struggled to understand and apply” the previous guidance.
“In these circumstances, OCR (the Education Department’s
civil rights office) and DOJ have decided to withdraw and
rescind the above-referenced guidance documents in order to
further consider the legal issues involved,” the document said.
Thirteen states led by Texas used a states’ rights defense
in a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its
transgender bathroom guidance. That lawsuit would be rendered
moot by the new policy.
The withdrawal is also certain to inflame passions in the
latest conflict in America between believers in traditional
values and the socially progressive, and is likely to generate
more of the street protests that followed Trump’s Nov. 8
(Reporting by Daniel Trotta in New York and Jeff Mason and
Julia Edwards Ainsley in Washington)
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