By Miriam Raftery
Photo: Gavin Grimm, transgender student whose case is on appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court
February 23, 2017 (San Diego) – President Donald Trump on Wednesday ordered the Department of Education and the Justice Department to withdraw guidelines that required schools to protect transgender students under Title IX, the federal law which bans sex discrimination in all public schools.
The New York Times reports that Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos initially opposed rolling back the protections, but ultimately caved in to pressure from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a staunch opponent of gay rights. A joint letter signed by top officials in the Education and Justice Dept. claims an Obama administration directive that transgender students be allowed to use the bathroom of their choice was drafted ““without due regard for the primary role of the states and local school districts in establishing educational policy.”
San Diego Senator Toni Atkins, a Democrat, issued a statement denouncing Trump’s action and pledging state protections for transgender students in California.
“That the president would attempt to roll back basic civil rights for transgender students is unsurprising, but still infuriating,” Atkins said. “It shows that he either doesn’t understand – or simply doesn’t care – that what’s he’s doing is akin to telling girls that they have to use the boys’ bathroom, and vice versa. Let me be clear: California will not go back. We will continue be a source of compassion and remain free of mean-spirited prejudice.”
The issue of transgender bathroom choice is ultimately expected to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. The high court will soon hear the case of Gavin Grimm, a 17-year-old transgender student who was banned by a Virginia school district from using the boy’s restroom at his high school even though he had been doing so with permission from the school’s principal for weeks without incident until parents complained.
A court ruled in favor of Grimm and has been appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. At a school board hearing Grimm told school board members, “All I want to do is be a normal child and use the restroom in peace.”