Barack Obama expanded a four-decade-old congressionally approved ban on discrimination based on “sex” to include discrimination based on “gender identity.”
Through an executive order, his reinterpretation of the law effectively forced America’s public schools to allow a high-school boy who declares himself to be female to shower with girls.
When Donald Trump took office, his advisers reviewed the 1972 Title IX law, which clearly didn’t address “gender identity,” and reversed Obama’s activism.
Now, headline writers apparently are surprised that the federal government will no longer investigate the complaints of boys who want access to the girl’s room and vice versa.
Within the last few hours, Slate stated “The Department of Education Will No Longer Investigate Transgender Student Bathroom Complaints.” WABE reported “The Education Department Says It Won’t Act on Transgender Student Bathroom Access.” A Washington Post headline said “Education Department no longer investigating transgender bathroom access.”
NPR cited a complaint by transgender high school student Gavin Grimm in Virginia, reporting the Department of Education “just announced it won’t investigate similar claims.”
“Do transgender boys or girls have the right to use the restroom at school that corresponds with their gender identity? The U.S. Education Department said Monday that it won’t hear complaints about or take action on this question,” NPR said.
Almost as soon as Trump was inaugurated, his education secretary, Betsy DeVos, rolled back Obama’s instructions to public schools.
But there had been no guidance on how to handle complaints.
Last month, the Huffington Post said the feds dismissed several such cases, and this week Education Department spokeswoman Liz Hill said that’s exactly what was happening.
“Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity,” Hill said.
NPR noted that Obama had declared the opposite, even though gender identity was not mentioned in the law, and likely was not discussed at the time the nondiscrimination law.
She explained, “In the case of bathrooms … long-standing regulations provide that separating facilities on the basis of sex is not a form of discrimination prohibited by Title IX.”
The Washington Post cited transgender students saying the situation “leaves them vulnerable to bullying and violence.”
The report said “civil rights groups” had claimed the Trump move “could endanger the welfare of transgender students.”
The fight has been played out in courts already, with results varying. Parent organizations have charged that allowing females to use showers designated for males, or vice versa, violates the privacy rights of other students.
Grimm, a girl, sued to use the boys bathroom and took her case to the U.S. Supreme Court. But her case collapsed with the Obama policy was reversed.
DeVos, however, has made it clear the federal government won’t tolerate bullying or harassment, so such cases, including abuse of transgenders, still are subject to investigation.
WND reported when Trump explained its reversal of Obama’s policy, arguing Obama’s guidance documents “did not contain extensive legal analysis or explain how the position is consistent with the express language of Title IX, nor did they undergo any formal public process.”
The change left schools responsible for handling the needs of transgender students on a case-by-case basis.
Gary McCaleb of the Alliance Defending Freedom fought Obama’s mandate.
“No longer will federal officials distort federal law that is meant to equalize educational opportunities for women, and no longer will they force local officials to intermingle boys and girls within private areas like locker rooms, showers, hotel rooms on school trips, and restrooms,” he said.
“Student privacy in those facilities must be protected, and by restoring the right understanding of Title IX, our nation also restores common sense: School officials should be free to protect their student’s privacy, safety, and dignity.”