On Wednesday, the Trump administration reversed key milestone guidelines to public schools that were put in place by the previous Obama administration. The guidelines allowed transgender school students make their own choice on what bathrooms to use, depending on their corresponding gender identity.
When the guidelines were initially put in place, it was hailed as a significant breakthrough for transgender rights, however critics said that this could lead to a breach in other students’ privacy and safety, which sparked a backlash and led to legal challenges from 13 states.
The administration has revoked these guidelines, even though they have been put on hold by a federal judge, arguing that individual states and public schools should have the authority to make their own decisions without any federal intrusion.
The Trump administration sent a letter to US schools on Wednesday outlining the change, saying that the previous Obama guidelines had caused confusion.
Even though the previous Obama ruling wasn’t legally binding, the Obama administration gave schools an ultimatum, stating that schools could lose funding if they didn’t adhere to the guidelines.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said that the administration had to act quickly due to an awaiting U.S. Supreme Court case, Gavin Grimm versus Gloucester County School Board. This case pits a transgender boy against officials who want to deny his right to use the male bathroom at his school.
Reversing the Obama guidelines will fuel passions between social progressives and believers in traditional values, and is likely to trigger more protests against the new Trump administration.
Around 200 people gathered outside the White House, waving LGBT flags and chanting “No hate, no fear, trans students are welcome here,” in support of the Obama ruling.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten called the move a major setback for transgender rights. “By rescinding these protections, the Trump administration is compromising the safety and security of some of our most vulnerable children,” she said.
Additionally, celebrities who have been advocates of LGBT rights have also come forward to condemn the Trump administration’s revoke on the guidelines. Most notably, Ellen DeGeneres, who tweeted: “This isn’t about politics, it’s about human rights.”
However, some conservative campaigners have welcomed the new administration’s move, stating that it ensured the protection of students’ rights to privacy. “Our daughters should never be forced to share private, intimate spaces with male classmates, even if those young men are struggling with these issues,” said Vicki Wilson, a member of Students and Parents for Privacy.
During the presidential campaign, the then presidential nominee Donald Trump was said to be in support of LGBT rights, saying that transgender students should be allowed to use whichever bathroom “they feel is appropriate.” However, he soon faced criticism by Republicans which led to Trump reversing his stance on the matter.
In a statement, Director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s LBGT project James Esseks said: “Revoking the guidance shows that the president’s promise to protect LGBT rights was just empty rhetoric.”