Sunday 25 June 2017

Trump to revoke transgender toilets and changing rooms guidance, official says

The White House said President Donald Trump believes the issue is for the states to decide without federal involvement (AP/Elaine Thompson)
The White House said President Donald Trump believes the issue is for the states to decide without federal involvement (AP/Elaine Thompson)

The Trump administration will revoke guidelines that say transgender students should be allowed to use toilets and changing rooms matching their chosen gender identity, a government official said.

The decision would be a reversal of an Obama-era directive issued in May. It required public schools to grant toilet access even if student records differ or others are uncomfortable.

The White House said President Donald Trump believes the issue is for the states to decide without federal involvement.

Although the guidance carried no force of law, transgender rights advocates said it was necessary to protect students from discrimination. Opponents argued it was overreach.

The Obama administration's guidance was based on its determination that Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education and activities, also applies to gender identity.

It was not legally binding but sent a warning that schools could lose funding if they did not comply with the administration's interpretation of the law.

Republicans immediately pushed back, arguing it was an example of federal government overreach and the Obama administration meddling in local matters.

Texas lieutenant governor Dan Patrick equated it to "blackmail" and said at the time that the state was ready to forfeit federal education money rather than comply with the guidance.

A federal judge in Texas put a temporary hold on the Obama guidance in August after 13 states sued the administration over the requirements.

The change in position was first reported by The Washington Post.

The reversal would be a major setback for transgender rights, which had been urging Mr Trump to keep the safeguards in place.

Advocates said federal law will still prohibit discrimination against students based on their gender or sexual orientation.

Still, they said, rescinding those directives puts children in harm's way.

Conservative activists hailed the plans to rescind the guidelines, saying those directives were illegal and that they violated the rights of fixed gender students, especially girls who did not feel safe changing or using the toilet next to anatomical males.

Legal experts said the change in position could impact pending court cases involving the federal sex discrimination law, including a case set to be heard by the Supreme Court in March, involving a transgender teenager who was denied bathroom access in Virginia.

The justices could decide not to hear the case and direct lower courts to decide that issue.

Press Association

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