The U.S. Department of Education has decided to no longer investigate complaints made by transgender students who are not allowed to use bathrooms assigned to those with their gender identity. A Trump administration official disclosed the new gender policy to Buzzfeed News, surprising very few in the activist and LGBTQ communities, but concerning many.
The Obama administration mandated that schools receiving federal money respect students’ gender identities and allow students to use conforming bathrooms. Last year, Trump rescinded the guidance. However, until now, it was not clear how Trump and his administration would be handling complaints from transgender students.
In explaining the new policy, Liz Hill confirmed what most already suspected: The Department of Education currently holds the position that complaints about restrooms from trans students do not fall under a 1972 federal civil rights law called Title IX, which “prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in any federally funded education program or activity.”
“Where students, including transgender students, are penalized or harassed for failing to conform to sex-based stereotypes, that is sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX,” Hill told BuzzFeed News. “In the case of bathrooms, however, long-standing regulations provide that separating facilities on the basis of sex is not a form of discrimination prohibited by Title IX.”
When asked for further explanation, Hill added that “Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity.”
Hill explained that certain complaints by transgender students might still be investigated, but none involving bathrooms. Considering the alarming rise of violence against transgender Americans last year, many are decrying the decision as irresponsible. However, it seems to have been well received by the President’s political base.