US president Donald Trump today rescinded the federal protections that Barack Obama placed on transgender students’ bathroom use.
In order “to more completely consider the legal issues,” the Trump administration is withdrawing directives issued by the Obama administration last year, which forced public schools to let transgender students use the bathroom of their choice. Letters from from the departments of justice and education outlined a new understanding of federal anti-discrimination education policies, known as Title IX, that does not cover the specific issue of transgender bathroom use. The letters note that further discussion is needed.
The reversal didn’t make its way out of the White House uncontested: Newly confirmed education secretary Betsy DeVos reportedly protested the policy, citing concern over the high suicide rate among transgender teenagers, but was asked by other administration officials to cooperate with the new guidance. (Press secretary Sean Spicer denied any controversy within the cabinet, saying this afternoon that DeVos was “100%” in agreement over the revision of rules.)
As for why the administration—barely a month into its tenure—is choosing to wage war on school bathrooms, Spicer said the White House is being pressured to act ahead of an upcoming Supreme Court case that pits a transgender boy against his Virginia high school. Today’s order also withdraws a previous letter from the education department in support of that student.