LGBTQ Groups Slam Trump's Reversal Of Transgender Bathroom Policies

At best, it's a stark reminder of life under this administration.

In a troubling, if predictable, move, President Donald Trump’s administration announced Wednesday that it would revoke a federal policy prohibiting schools from discriminating against transgender students.

It was a stark reversal of the expanded protections put in place under then-President Barack Obama last year. In May, the Obama administration notified public schools they risked losing federal funding if they followed the lead of North Carolina’s House Bill 2 by requiring trans students to use the restrooms that correspond with the gender they were assigned at birth.

In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions explained that the Department of Education and the Department of Justice had withdrawn Obama’s directive because it lacked thorough legal analysis and hadn’t gone through a public vetting process. “Congress, state legislatures, and local governments are in a position to adopt appropriate policies or laws addressing this issue,” he wrote. “The Department of Justice remains committed to the proper interpretation and enforcement of Title IX and to its protections for all students, including LGBTQ students, from discrimination, bullying, and harassment.”

Though Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was reportedly against rescinding the order, she echoed Sessions’s sentiments. “This is an issue best solved at the state and local level. Schools, communities, and families can find – and in many cases have found – solutions that protect all students,” she wrote in a statement.

LGBTQ advocacy groups, however, felt differently. With everything from marriage equality and anti-discrimination efforts possibly at stake under Trump, many advocates and allies see the move as a brutal reminder that their rights are not a priority for the current administration. Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute President and CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills called it “a shameful display of failed leadership,” while the National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey blasted the effort as “an outrageous attack on the most vulnerable in our education system, transgender children.”

GLAAD, GLSEN and the American Civil Liberties Union all offered similar distaste for the policy reversal, as did other prominent groups. See how they responded below.

The Los Angeles LGBT Center
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
“All students deserve the dignity of being free from harassment and discrimination, including use of the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identities. Refusing to protect our most vulnerable youth is deplorable and dangerous. This is another clear signal of the Trump administration’s intent to rollback protections for LGBT people." -- Los Angeles LGBT Center Director of Public Policy And Community Building Dave Garcia
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD)
Boston Globe via Getty Images
“The withdrawal of this guidance is a devastating step back for transgender students, who today are receiving the message that the federal government will not vigorously defend their right to an education. This unfortunate reversal of protections reflects crass, unprincipled political pandering. The American people support fairness and equal treatment of all students and do not think vulnerable young people should be made pawns of a political drama being played out by the current administration." -- GLAD's Transgender Rights Project Director Jennifer L. Levi
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
“Transgender youth face extremely high rates of discrimination and bullying. By rescinding the Department of Education guidance recommending trans students be treated equally under Title IX, the administration is sending an alarming message that it will no longer defend their rights. While this action does not and cannot take away any rights trans students currently have, it undermines the progress we have made towards equality and acceptance.” -- GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
"While the Trump administration may abandon transgender students, GLSEN won’t. And neither will the thousands of teachers, administrators and parents around the country who work with GLSEN and our local chapters to ensure that transgender students everywhere have the opportunity to simply be themselves and live better lives. Schools, leaders and teachers must do the right thing and give all students the chance in life they deserve." -- Dr. Eliza Byard, GLSEN Executive Director
Physicians for Reproductive Health
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
“As an organization that cares deeply about adolescent health, we think it’s unacceptable to reverse a guidance that is meant to protect children who already face significant challenges to their well-being. Transgender children are often rejected by their family and peers, harassed, traumatized and abused, and are at a higher risk for depression and suicide. Discouraging or punishing children for expressing their true sense of identity threatens their health and well-being, and schools have a special responsibility to protect all young people, regardless of gender identity or expression." -- Dr. Diane Horvath-Cosper, Reproductive Health Advocacy Fellow at Physicians for Reproductive Health
Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute
Boston Globe via Getty Images
“In a shameful display of failed leadership, today President Trump succumbed to his extremist advisors and provided permission for schools to discriminate against transgender students. The move – while abhorrent – is unfortunately not surprising. Regardless of Trump claiming he would be a friend to LGBT people, the reality is personnel is policy. Trump is surrounding himself with anti-LGBT appointees who demonize our community and reject the notion of civil rights for LGBT people, making anti-LGBT policies almost inevitable." -- Gay & Lesbian Victory Institute President and CEO Aisha C. Moodie-Mills
National LGBTQ Task Force
Lucy Nicholson / Reuters
“This is an outrageous attack on the most vulnerable in our education system, transgender children. At a time when young people need all the help they can get to reach their full potential, all Trump has to offer is more opportunities to discriminate against them. When every parent of a trans child needs hope and optimism for their families, all the president has to offer is pain and despair.” -- National LGBTQ Task Force Executive Director Rea Carey
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
“Revoking the guidance shows that the president’s promise to protect LGBT rights was just empty rhetoric. But the bottom line is that this does not undo legal protections for trans students, and school districts can and must continue to protect them and all students from discrimination. School districts that recognize that should continue doing the right thing; for the rest, we’ll see them in court. We will continue to fight for the rights and dignity of transgender youth, especially now that the Trump administration has decided to turn its back on them.” -- American Civil Liberties Union LGBT Project Director James Esseks
New York Civil Liberties Union
Jonathan Drake / Reuters
“The Trump administration has made it clear that it will not protect the rights of the transgender community – one of the most vulnerable populations in the U.S. Even as the law remains on the side of transgender students, the administration’s new guidance sends them a terrible message about their right to receive an education as the people that they are, and creates national confusion around our civil rights laws that will put countless transgender children’s lives and well-being at risk.” -- New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman
Lambda Legal
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
“We all know that Donald Trump is a bully, but his attack on transgender children today is a new low. The U.S. Department of Education’s decision to withdraw guidance clarifying the rights of transgender students endangers the well-being and safety of children across the country. Trump’s actions do not change the law itself—transgender students remain protected by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972—but abandoning the guidance intentionally creates confusion about what federal law requires. The law bars discrimination – the new administration invites it." -- Lambda Legal CEO Rachel B. Tiven
Equality Pennsylvania
Jonathan Drake / Reuters
"Every student should be treated fairly and equally under the law, and protecting transgender students helps ensure that they have the same opportunity as their classmates to fully participate in school. The Trump administration’s decision to rescind this guidance has no impact on schools that are already doing the right thing in line with this guidance – they can, should, and will continue to protect transgender students.That’s why revoking this guidance is indicative of the administration’s disregard for transgender youth and the many challenges they face. While it may not have a legal impact, it sends an alarming messaging that bullying and harassment are OK." -- Equality Pennsylvania Executive Director Ted Martin
Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC)
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
"The unacceptable repeal of vital transgender protections in public schools by the Trump administration restricts the rights of an entire group of people. In recent years, we have made great strides in increasing social justice for the LGBT community, and this intolerant executive order diminishes that progress. We will continue to make our voices heard to ensure schools remain safe spaces for all children, regardless of the gender they identify with." -- GMHC CEO Kelsey Louie
National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR)
Boston Globe via Getty Images
"Since our founding, the National Center for Lesbian Rights has stood for the principle that every child deserves love, respect, and recognition for who they are. We have advanced this vision for 40 years, and we do not intend to let this administration's irresponsible and cowardly actions get in the way of fighting for our youth. We will not let Jeff Sessions and Mike Pence, two of the most openly anti-LGBT public officials in our nation’s history, erase the gains we have made." -- National Center for Lesbian Rights Executive Director Kate Kendell
Equality Florida
Andrew Kelly / Reuters
“This comprehensive guidance put in place by the Obama administration helped provide every student a fair chance to succeed in school and prepare for their future—including students who are transgender. Schools should be safe places for LGBTQ students who are already at a disproportionate risk for bullying and harassment. Rescinding the guidance yesterday has sent the message to transgender youth that the President of the United States doesn’t have their backs.” -- Gina Duncan, Transgender Inclusion Director for Equality Florida

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