After much speculation pertaining to the Trump administration’s official policy on transgender restroom policies, a White House spokeswoman indicated that the U.S. Department of Education won’t investigate any complaints regarding transgender restroom policies.
Spokeswoman Liz Hill told BuzzFeed News that specific kinds of transgender complaints may be investigated, but no bathroom complaints will garner the Department of Education’s scrutiny.
“Long-standing regulations provide that separating facilities on the basis of sex is not a form of discrimination prohibited by Title IX,” Hill said, explaining that the department will continue investigating sex-based stereotypes and sex discrimination against transgender individuals, but will not devote resources to the slew of transgender bathroom cases.
“Until now, the official position of the department has been that Title IX protects all students and that they were evaluating how that protection applies to the issue of bathroom access,” said the chairwoman of the United States Commission on Civil Rights, Catherine Lhamon, who disagrees with Hill’s statement that the DOE isn’t required to include transgender restroom policies under Title IX.
“This new categorical bar of civil rights protection for transgender children required to attend schools every day ignores the text of the law, courts’ interpretation of the law, the stated position of the department to date, and human decency,” Lhamon said, according to BuzzFeed News. “That interpretation represents an appalling abdication of federal enforcement responsibility, inconsistent with the law and with courts’ interpretation of the law, and totally lacking in human compassion for children in school, whom the department is charged to protect.”
The Education Department’s announcement comes after the Trump administration revoked a vague Obama administration order that forced taxpayer-funded schools to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice.
“This is a states’ rights issue and not one for the federal government,” then-White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters in February 2017.
Montana is considering adopting a measure requiring people to use the bathroom and locker room of their biological sex. The Locker Room Privacy Act says Montana residents must use the bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their birth gender rather than their gender identity, according to the Missoulian.
Maryland schools adopted a new policy in November, however, allowing transgenders to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice, according to The Washington Post.
A transgender student also won $800,000 from her Wisconsin high school in January after reaching a settlement in a lawsuit alleging staff had monitored her trips to the boys’ bathroom.
Ash Whitaker, who identifies as male, filed a lawsuit claiming that teachers had accompanied her to the boys’ bathroom and forced her to wear an identifying bracelet to single her out from other students. The Kenosha, Wisconsin, school board voted 5-2 to grant the $800,000 settlement.