Education Department says it will reject transgender student bathroom complaints
(AP) The Education Department has told BuzzFeed News it won't investigate or take action on any complaints filed by transgender students who are banned from restrooms that match their gender identity, charting new ground in the Trump administration's year-long broadside against LGBT rights.
It’s the first time officials have asserted this position publicly as an interpretation of law. No formal announcement has been made.
When the Education Department and Justice Department withdrew Obama-era guidance on transgender restroom access in February 2017, Trump’s officials said in a memo and court filings that they would "consider the legal issues involved.” Then last June, the Education Department issued another memo saying it was "permissible" for its civil rights division to dismiss a trans student's restroom case. However, in those statements, officials never cemented their intent to reject all restroom complaints issued by trans students.
Liz Hill, a spokesperson for the Education Department, responded “yes, that’s what the law says” when asked again if the Education Department holds a current position that restroom complaints from transgender students are not covered by a 1972 federal civil rights law called Title IX.
Asked for further explanation on the department’s position, Hill said Friday, “Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity.”
She added that certain types of transgender complaints may be investigated — but not bathroom complaints.
“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,” Hill said. “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.”
The bathroom rule is the Trump administration's latest step to rescind and undermine LGBT protections. Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew a policy protecting transgender workers, while he took the unusual step of jumping into a private lawsuit arguing that anti-gay discrimination was permissible in employment under federal law. Sessions has also argued religious business owners can refuse service to gay customers, even when anti-gay discrimination is banned by state law, and Trump has attempted to ban transgender people from all military service.
The Gayly. February 12, 2018. 12:25 p.m. CST.