The minute Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was confirmed as U.S. attorney general, the Trump administration set its sights on rolling back civil rights gains of the last 40 years. And it started with one of the most vulnerable populations: transgender kids.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Sessions and the administration withdrew an Obama administration joint Department of Justice (DOJ) and Department of Education (DOE) guidance to schools receiving federal funding that their transgender students have a right to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identities.
The move doesn’t change the law. Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972 still protects the rights of transgender students to use restrooms and facilities consistent with their gender identities, as it always has. What the move does change is the federal government’s recognition of the fundamental humanity of those children.
In May of last year, the Departments of Justice and Education issued a “Dear Colleague” letter to most schools receiving federal funding clarifying that complying with Title IX means guaranteeing transgender students access to the appropriate restrooms and facilities. Dear Colleague letters are routine. They are effectively memos issued by federal agencies; in this case, the letter clarified schools’ existing responsibilities.
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