Mon. May 16th, 2022

The U.S. Department of Education announced it will no longer take action against complaints by transgender students being banned from bathrooms conforming with their gender identity.

This reverses the Obama administration’s direction to allow transgender students to use the public bathroom that aligns with their gender identity. The Obama administration’s position was that banning transgender students from public bathrooms is a form of sex discrimination prohibited under Title IX.

President Donald Trump’s administration rescinded this decision in February 2017 by stating that Title IX does not enforce the policy of allowing transgender students to use the bathroom of their choice. The administration left the decision up to individual school districts.

The spokesperson of the Department of Education under President Trump clarified their stance further on Monday, Feb. 12, 2018. Elizabeth Hill told CNN, “Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity.”

Hill continued, “Therefore the question is whether a student (regardless of gender identity) has been discriminated against on the basis of sex. 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 due to sex is not a form of discrimination prohibited by Title IX.

Hill then stated the department will continue to “use current law and current regulation to determine if any child in school is being harassed or discriminated against due to race, sex or disability.” The department believes that all students will continue to learn in a safe environment protected from harassment and bullying.

The department said it will continue to look into complaints made by transgender students that do not involve bathrooms.

The former head of the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights under President Barack Obama, Catherine Lhamon, told the Post that the decision was “appalling and deeply dangerous.”

Eliza Byard, the executive director of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, and Straight Education Network), said, “Congress created the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Education in order to ensure that marginalized and vulnerable students had a champion. 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.

Students of West Chester University have their own visions of how this can affect students.

“[Transgender students] will feel as though they’re not worthy of being treated equally,” says Eric Lowe, a junior student who previously worked for the Center of Women and Gender Equity. “Discrimination is very apparent and real towards all kinds of marginalized groups of people and that includes transgender people.”

“This campus should be a safe and welcoming environment to all of West Chester’s students,” he concluded.

Stacey Mills is a fourth-year student majoring in English with a minor in journalism. ✉

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