Trump administration lifts Obama protections for transgender students, says they lacked legal basis

President-elect Donald Trump, left, and President Barack Obama arrive for Trump's inauguration ceremony at the Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. Trump, a real estate mogul and reality television star who upended American politics and energized voters angry with Washington, will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, putting Republicans in control of the White House for the first time in eight years. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)

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On Wednesday evening, the Trump Administration officially withdrew the Obama Administration’s protections for transgender students. The move came after days of speculation. Under the Obama Administration’s Department of Education and Department of Justice, public schools across the country were ordered to allow transgender students to use the bathroom and locker room that aligned with their gender identity rather than their sex at birth, citing Title IX.

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The “dear colleague” letter from the Trump Administration does not set forth any new guidance, but rather rolls back the previous instructions, insisting that they did not “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 Administration argued that the federal government has a responsibility to enforce the law and that the Obama Administration’s protections lacked sufficient legal basis. The Department of Justice and Department of Education, headed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos respectively, wrote that there must be “due regard for the primary role of the States and local school districts in establishing educational policy” and that this is an issue that would be better solved at the state and local levels so communities and families can determine what best meets their needs.

While the memo offers no specific instructions on how schools should deal with the issue, it did add that “schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment.”

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