By: Zack Duvall
Roughly 200 people gathered outside the White House Wednesday to protest the announcement by the President that the Federal government was rolling back guidelines the Obama administration had issued in regards to public school policy towards transgender students.
Last May, the Obama administration had issued a set of policy guidelines to public education officials to follow on the issue of gender identity and transgender rights, which included allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of their chosen gender.
School districts who opposed the Obama policy at the time were threatened with the withholding of federal education funds.
Amidst a wave of criticism from many LBGT community advocates callingthe new guidelines a move against transgender rights, the Trump administration maintains that the new guidelines are not a mandate against the “civil rights” of transgender students, rather, it is simply giving the ability back to the individual states and school districts to develop their own policies on the specific transgender issues they may face.
The new White House policy comes as a federal U.S. district judge in Texas had ruled to put the Obama-era guidelines on hold after 13 states, including North Carolina and Texas, sued the federal government over their implementation.
Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, praised the move yesterday by President Trump to rescind the federal mandate and implement new federal guidance giving more autonomy on the issue back to the states and state legislatures.
“Our fight over the bathroom directive has always been about former President Obama’s attempt to bypass congress and rewrite the laws for his agenda of radical social change.” Paxton said in a statement after the White House’s announcement.
Transgender legal advocates immediately vowed to fight the new guidelines in court and claim that the entire issue of gender identity falls under the federal law that covers sexual discrimination, Title IX.
However, opposing legal scholars and officials, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions, argue that neither the Obama guidelines issued last May or the current lawsuits being filed by transgender advocates explain or provide evidence of how gender identity are covered under the law.
When asked about the announcement from the Trump White House and legal grounds for the new federal stance, Sessions told reporters that the Obama guidelines “did not contain sufficient legal analysis or explanation of how their interpretation was consistent with the language of Title IX.”
New York Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, slammed the move by the Trump administration.
“President Trump’s decision to rescind anti-discrimination protections for transgender students is yet another cruel move by an administration committed to divisive policies that roll back the clock on civil rights.”
Despite an out pour of skepticism and criticism White House officials said that the Justice department will still investigate the legal aspects of transgender rights and protections in the nation and the federal government’s role in the area of gender identity policy.
Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, also released a statement Wednesday on behalf of the Department of Education in which that she, and the department she heads, supported the move by the White House and that they would continue to work with transgender rights’ groups and that the department “would investigate any and all claims of discrimination against transgender students.”