Trump Is Rolls Back Guidelines For Transgender Students

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In a joint action, the departments of Justice and Education are expected to rescind instructions that schools nationwide must respect the gender identities of transgender students, allowing them access to bathrooms and other facilities or single-sex programs that align with their sense of self. When asked on Wednesday about reports that such a move was imminent, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said to “expect further guidance to come out on that today.”

“Under Title IX,” a school that receives federal funds must generally “treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity,” as one memo from the Department of Education put it. Such instructions are consistent with a body of case law that has been building for the past several years, but they have also been controversial — leading about a dozen states to sue the federal government for allegedly overstepping its bounds and “rewriting” the law.

Speaking with reporters, Spicer echoed the argument that such an interpretation of Title IX is flawed. “It’s incumbent upon us to actually follow the law and to recognize that Title IX never talked about this,” Spicer told reporters. “It was enacted in 1972. There was no discussion of this back then, and to assume certain elements of the law were thought of back then with respect to this would be completely preposterous.”

Opponents of the guidelines have also argued that allowing transgender students bathroom access jeopardizes the privacy of other students, and some have even questioned the authenticity of transgender students’ gender identities. The Obama-era interpretation of Title IX “does violence to the notion of physical privacy,” the states’ lawyers wrote in a complaint, “by advancing an understanding that requires the mixing of the sexes in intimate areas.”

On Wednesday, Spicer also confirmed reports that there had been disagreements about how to approach the guidance. The instructions were jointly issued by the two departments and so need to be rolled back in concert, but Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reportedly resisted the move — despite insistence from Sessions — and said that there should be language that instructs schools to generally protect transgender students.

“There is no daylight between the president or any of the secretaries,” Spicer said, acknowledging that there was some back-and-forth over timing and specific language, but also saying that there was agreement on the conclusions.

When asked during a press briefing on Tuesday to address the rumors that the instructions would be rolled back, Spicer said that President Trump believes the treatment of transgender students in public schools to be “a states’ rights issue.”

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