The U.S. Department of Education announced this week that it will no longer look into transgender bathroom complaints.
This decision is a clear sign that President Trump’s staff is interpreting federal laws regarding sex discrimination in schools differently than the previous administration.
The policy change is a direct reversal of the Obama administration’s decision in 2016 to include transgender students as a protected class under the Title IX federal law. Under Obama, schools were mandated to provide access to bathrooms and locker rooms for students based on their personal gender identity as opposed to their gender at birth.
“Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity,” said Education Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Hill in an interview with CNN.
At the same time, Hill made it clear that her department will continue to uphold and execute Title IX and will not tolerate discrimination of any child in public schools, including discrimination based on gender identity.
“While civil rights advocates have suspected that the Department of Education was not acting on complaints brought forward by transgender students, reports that these violations are completely being ignored are reprehensible,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director at the Human Rights Campaign.
The National Center for Transgender Equality called the Education department’s decision “a brazen and shameless attack on hundreds of thousands of young Americans who must already defend themselves against schoolyard bullies,” in a press statement.
Currently, there is a court injunction which does not compel public schools to provide transgender bathrooms. Thirteen states are challenging the transgender bathroom in a case which could be reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court during this year.