Barack Obama, while in office, had redefined federal law so that the generations-old, congressionally approved bans on discrimination based on “sex” were also bans on discrimination based on “gender identity.”
That would mean that America’s public schools would be forced into the situation of allowing a nude high-school boy to shower with nude high-school girls if he said he was a girl, or vice versa.
When Donald Trump took office, his advisers looked at the law, which clearly didn’t identify “gender identity,” noted the fact that Congress had refused to adopt such a definition, and pulled back on Obama’s activism.
Now, headline writers across the United States apparently are surprised that something that isn’t defined as being against the law no longer will be investigated by the federal government.
Just within the last few hours, Slate stated, “The Department of Education Will No Longer Investigate Transgender Student Bathroom Complaints” and WABE reported, “The Education Department Says It Won’t Act on Transgender Student Bathroom Access” and the Washington Post had “Education Department no longer investigating transgender bathroom access.”
All are similar to the NPR report that cited the complaint by “transgender high school student Gavin Grimm” in Virginia, and stated, “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 the instructions delivered by Obama to allow the gender-crossing activities in schools
But there hadn’t been another announcement regarding how those no-longer-violations would be handled.
NPR reported last month the Huffington Post said the feds had dismissed several such cases and this week Education Department spokesman Liz Hill said that’s exactly what was happening.
“Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity,” Hill said in the report.
NPR noted that Obama had declared the opposite, even though gender identity was not mentioned in the law, and likely was not even an issue that would have been discussed at the time the nondiscrimination law was adopted decades ago.
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 charged that transgender students say the situation “leaves them vulnerable to bullying and violence.”
The report said “civil rights groups” had claimed the Trump-era move “could endanger the welfare of transgender students.”
The fight has been played out over and over in courts already, with results varying. Parent organizations had charged that when school boards allowing those who are female to use showers designated for males, or vice versa, it violates the privacy rights of all the other students involved.
Grimm, a girl, had 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 that her tenure will not allow bullying or harassment, so those cases, even involving transgenders, still are subject to investigation.
WND reported when Trump made the change that the “Dear Colleague” letter abandoned the overreach from the Obama administration that claimed that back in the 1970s, when Title IX was being adopted, Congress had in mind that girls’ facilities should be open to boys who say they are girls and vice versa.
“These [Obama] guidance documents take the position that the prohibitions on discrimination ‘on the basis of sex’ in Title IX … require access to sex-segregated facilities based on gender identity. 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,” the letter said.
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, which had fought Obama’s mandate, said when the change was made that it was the right thing.
“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. 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,” he said.