The Trump administration on Wednesday night withdrew Obama-era guidance on transgender bathroom use in public schools.
The announcement is a significant victory for opponents of the Obama administration’s guidelines who believe the federal government should never have gotten involved in the issue.
Last May, under the Obama administration, the departments of Justice and Education told public school districts and colleges that receive federal funding that it interprets “sex discrimination” under Title IX, a federal law that bans sex discrimination in schools, to include claims based on gender identity.
In a two-page “Dear Colleague” letter to public schools, the Trump administration said the existing guidance 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 letter — which does not offer new guidance but simply withdraws the Obama administration policy — says there must be “due regard” for the role of states and local school districts in shaping education policy in schools.
“We have a responsibility to protect every student in America and ensure that they have the freedom to learn and thrive in a safe and trusted environment,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said in a statement. “This is not merely a federal mandate, but a moral obligation no individual, school, district or state can abdicate. At my direction, the department’s Office for Civil Rights remains committed to investigating all claims of discrimination, bullying and harassment against those who are most vulnerable in our schools.”
One source outside of government who said he’s familiar with DeVos’ thinking on the plans told CNN, “this is not what Betsy wanted to do.”
She communicated that first to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the source said. She was then summoned to the White House on Tuesday for a meeting with Sessions and President Donald Trump, where she was told to agree to the plans.
“It was the President’s decision,” the source said.
DeVos reminded Trump that both he and she had publicly promised to protect all students.
She felt that this was not in accordance with those promises. She did ask for additional language to put in the letter that affirmed that students would still be protected and the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights would investigate issues.
Her concern was that some people may interpret it as removing protections.
“When the President tells you to do something you don’t want to do, that is a hard spot to be in,” the source said.