President Donald Trump’s decision this week to revoke an Obama-era policy that implored public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their gender identity is capturing a lot of attention.
The decision definitively turns back the clock on the Obama administration’s guidance letter to schools last May, which essentially threatened institutions with the loss of federal funding if they did not abide by the letter’s terms, though the text of that letter was not necessarily legally binding in and of itself.
Either way, the reaction to Trump’s move has thus far been swift and diverse. While some see the decision not to carry through with the protections as a victory for states’ rights, others see it as an affront to the transgender community. Here’s just a sampling of what people, politicians, celebrities and companies have been saying about it on Twitter:
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 23, 2017
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) February 23, 2017
Disgraceful Trump removes federal protections for transgender students. To trans kids everywhere: we have your back! #protecttranskids
— J.B. Pritzker (@JBPritzker) February 23, 2017
AG Paxton Releases Statement on President Trump’s Decision on School Bathroom Directive: https://t.co/i8vtPPTQAn
— TX AG's Office (@TXAG) February 23, 2017
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) February 23, 2017
No transgender kid is going to assault anyone in a bathroom.
Yet Trump's ADMITTED to walking in on teen girls getting dressed.
— Dan Slott (@DanSlott) February 23, 2017
Inauguration singer Jackie Evancho & her transgender sister have a message for Trump: "I want to enlighten him." pic.twitter.com/NpePhaeZyX
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) February 23, 2017
Thankful the Trump administration followed through on reversing transgender guidelines for schools. Now the issue shifts to #SCOTUS.
— Albert Mohler (@albertmohler) February 23, 2017
Very happy to see the Trump administration revoke the outrageous transgender mandate for schools.
— Russell Moore (@drmoore) February 23, 2017
Trump’s decision to subject transgender kids to bigotry in the name of "states’ rights" marks a major setback in the fight for civil rights https://t.co/mfhz2V9T6a
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) February 23, 2017
For its part, the Trump administration sees the effort to rescind the guidelines as putting the power to make local decisions in the hands of states and school districts, as Reuters reported.
In a “dear colleague” letter dated Feb. 22, the Departments of Justice and Education wrote that they are “withdrawing the statements of policy and guidance reflected in” the joint letter that was issued by those same agencies to schools last year on behalf of the Obama administration.
The new letter states that the original neither properly addressed the Obama administration’s interpretation of Title IX discrimination law, nor did it undergo what the letter calls a “formal public process.” Due to these elements — and resulting legal challenges — the Trump administration has chosen to abandon the former “dear colleague letter.”
“These guidance documents take the position that the prohibitions on discrimination ‘on the basis of sex’ in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Title IX), 20 U.S.C. § 1681 et seq., and its implementing regulations, see, e.g., 34 C.F.R. § 106.33, require access to sex-segregated facilities based on gender identity,” the letter reads. “These guidance documents do not, however, 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.”
In the end, this means that states and local school districts will be able to establish their own policies on this matter. Despite that development, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and the letter itself reaffirm protections for all students, including LGBTQ individuals.
I consider protecting all students, including #LGBTQ students, not only a key priority for the Department, but for every school in America.
— Betsy DeVos (@BetsyDeVosED) February 23, 2017
“Please note that this withdrawal of these guidance documents does not leave students without protections from discrimination, bullying, or harassment,” the letter reads, pledging to continue investigating discrimination claims. “All schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment.”
And DeVos tweeted, “I consider protecting all students, including #LGBTQ students, not only a key priority for the Department, but for every school in America.” She also affirmed these protections in a press release issued by the Department of Education, saying she believes every student deserves a learning environment free of “discrimination, bullying and harassment.”
Read more about the decision to rescind the order here.
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