Trump revokes Obama’s transgender directive
White House says states should decide whether schools must open restrooms and locker rooms based on gender identity
The White House today rescinded the Obama administration’s transgender directive, a policy that required schools to allow students to use the restrooms and locker rooms that corresponded with their gender identities.
Former President Barack Obama threatened to revoke federal funding from school districts that kept boys and girls separated by biological sex in traditionally single-sex facilities. The order came not long after North Carolina passed a law protecting public establishments from being forced to provide restroom and locker room access based on gender identity rather than biology. The law pitted LGBT activism against the privacy rights of students and led some businesses to boycott North Carolina in protest.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer said today the existing transgender directive was confusing and hard to implement and new orders would be issued soon.
“The president has made it clear throughout the campaign that he is a firm believer in states’ rights and that certain issues like this are not best dealt with at the federal level,” Spicer said.
At least 23 states sued the Obama administration over the transgender directive, arguing it was tantamount to making law. The White House said it was simply interpreting Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to include gender identity in the existing prohibitions on sex discrimination. Last August, a judge in Texas agreed with the states and temporarily blocked implementation of the directive.
Trump’s removal of the directive could affect a case about transgender restroom use currently before the Supreme Court. Gloucester County School Board v. G.G. stems from a transgender high-school student’s request to use the boys restroom.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the school had to allow the student access to the restroom, but it based its decision on the Department of Education’s guidance in the transgender directive. In the majority opinion, the court left open the possibility that the guidance could change in the future, affecting the outcome of this case or similar ones: “Not only may a subsequent administration choose to implement a different policy, but Congress may also, of course, revise Title IX explicitly to prohibit or authorize the course charted here by the department regarding the use of restrooms by transgender students. … [W]e leave policy formulation to the political branches.”
Oral arguments in the Gloucester County case are scheduled at the Supreme Court in late March.
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