The Trump administration has withdrawn guidelines issued last year by the Departments of Justice and Education under the Obama administration that directed public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their chosen gender identity.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a press conference today that it’s a matter best left to states to decide, saying, “The president is a firm believer in state’s rights, and that certain issues like this are not best dealt with at the federal level.”
He also said that both the Departments of Justice and Education were working together on the new guidance and alluded to legal and procedural “areas of concern” present in the existing guidance as it was issued under the Obama administration that were being addressed.
The agencies said in the letter withdrawing the guidance that the decision was made in order “to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved.”
Spicer also said that the new secretary of the Department of Education, Betsy Devos, was “100%” on board with the change.
Devos reinforced Trump’s stated position on state’s rights, saying in a statement, “This is an issue best solved at the state and local level. Schools, communities, and families can find – and in many cases have found – solutions that protect all students.”
She added that her agency remains committed to investigating all claims of discrimination, bullying and harassment for all students.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement:
The Department of Justice has a duty to enforce the law. The prior guidance documents did not contain sufficient legal analysis or explain how the interpretation was consistent with the language of Title IX. The Department of Education and the Department of Justice therefore have withdrawn the guidance. Congress, state legislatures, and local governments are in a position to adopt appropriate policies or laws addressing this issue. The Department of Justice remains committed to the proper interpretation and enforcement of Title IX and to its protections for all students, including LGBTQ students, from discrimination, bullying, and harassment.
While the original guidance was not legally binding, it carried a stipulation that schools could lose federal funding if they did not comply with the federal agencies’ guidelines.
A copy of the letter withdrawing the previous guidance is included below.