US President Donald Trump’s administration on 22 February 2017 rolled back Obama’s protection law for transgender students that allowed them to use the bathroom and locker room of their choice in public schools.
In May 2016, Barack Obama had instructed all the public schools in the United States to allow transgender students to openly choose their gender identity and use the bathrooms and locker rooms that matched with it. This measure was taken in accordance with Title IX, the federal law that bars gender discrimination in education.
It was seen by the transgender community as a huge progress in their fight for equal rights. However, Trump’s administration revoked the protection arguing that the state and public schools should have the authority to make their own decisions without interference from federal authority.
• The decision to revoke the order was announced by the Department of Justice and Department of Education.
• The withdrawal was not well received by the opposition Democratic Party leaders.
• The Trump administration backed the move by saying that there were too many lawsuits and legal loopholes in Obama’s regulation.
Obama’s instructions not in line with Title IX
According to Betsy DeVos, US Education Secretary, the guidance issued by Obama’s administration had raised several legal questions and as a result a federal court in August 2016 had issued a nationwide ban, barring the department from implementing a portion of its application.
DeVos further stated that since then, the department had not enforced that part of the instruction and so, the withdrawal has had no immediate effect on the students.
US Attorney General Jeff Sessions also commented on the issue by saying that the previous instruction did not comprise enough legal analysis or explain how its interpretation was in line with Title IX. He further added that the state legislatures and local governments are in a position to adopt appropriate policies to address the issue.
Sessions also affirmed that the Department of Justice is committed to ensure the proper interpretation and enforcement of Title IX and the protection of all its students including the ones belonging to the LGBT community from discrimination, bullying and harassment.
This move has however, received a lot of criticism from the American public and the leaders of opposition parties who view it as a regressive step and as a huge blow to the already vulnerable LGBT community.
According to Nancy Pelosi, the Minority leader of the House of Representatives, the move is an indication that President Trump cannot be trusted to defend the rights of LGBT Americans. She further claimed that the issue was not a state issue; it was an issue of equality for all.
US Senator Ben Cardin also condemned the decision by saying that it is a tragic step backward for the transgender children.