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statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions explained that the Department of Education and the Department of Justice had withdrawn Obama’s directive because it lacked thorough legal analysis and hadn’t gone through a public vetting process.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.”