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US Department of Education will no longer act on trans bathroom complaints

Meka Beresford February 13, 2018

Win McNamee/Getty

The US Department of Education will no longer act on or investigate into complaints made by transgender students about bathroom access.

The DoE made its decision to scrap investigating complaints about trans discrimination citing the reason as Title IX only prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity.

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 23: Hundreds protest a Trump administration announcement this week that rescinds an Obama-era order allowing transgender students to use school bathrooms matching their gender identities, at the Stonewall Inn on February 23, 2017 in New York City. Activists and members of the transgender community gathered outside the historic LGTB bar to denounce the new policy. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Elizabeth Hill, a spokesperson for the agency, told BuzzFeed that the 1972 title of the Education Amendments does not specify discrimination in relevance to facilities such as bathrooms.

She said: “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.

“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.

Related: Another part of the Trump administration just got caught dismantling work on LGBT issues

“The secretary would contend that it is the job of Congress or the courts, not the bureaucracy, to determine whether or not the term ‘sex’ under Title IX encompasses ‘gender identity,” Hill added.

The Trump administration’s interpretation of Title XI scraps the definition by the Obama administration completely.

Guidance issued under the 44th president in 2016 stated that public schools must allow students to use the bathroom that resonated with their gender identity.

The title also protected trans student.

Hill added that the education secretary, Betsy DeVos, and the department “believe strongly that all students are to be protected from harassment and bullying and have the opportunity to learn in a safe and nurturing environment”.

The decision to further roll back protections for trans students has been slammed by LGBTQ+ activists and senior politicians.

Related: Judge refuses to block school from enforcing pro-trans policy

Senator Patty Murray, a top Democrat in the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee said that it was an “unambiguous step backwards for civil rights in this country” to choose to “ignore the rights of transgender students and to not enforce Title IX when it comes to their protection”.

Human Rights Campaign legal director Sarah Warbelow said that the DoE’s decision to not act on reports of civil rights violations was “reprehensible”.

“The department’s failure to act conflicts with the law in multiple jurisdictions, including federal circuits, and further emboldens those who seek to discriminate against transgender students.

“Once again, Secretary [Betsy] DeVos proves she is not interested in protecting transgender students and instead is choosing to advance the dangerous Trump-Pence anti-LGBTQ agenda,” she added.

The decision was coined as “cruel” by Eliza Byard, the executive director of GLSEN, an LGBTQ+ education network.

She insisted that the newly adopted policies were “hurting transgender students in concrete and far-reaching ways” and that the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Education had a duty to “ensure that marginalized and vulnerable students had a champion”.

Related: Trump ‘set to dismantle’ protections for transgender children

“Under Secretary DeVos, the office has abdicated that solemn responsibility for transgender youth.

“OCR’s cruel new policy flies in the face of the highest court rulings on this issue, which found unequivocally that denying transgender students appropriate bathroom access is a violation of Title IX,” Byard said.

More: bathroom ban, betsy devos, department of education, LGBT, Trans, Transgender, US, US

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