WASHINGTON, February 22, 2017 — A new controversy is brewing in the Trump White House. With the immigration executive order now behind him, President Trump is expected to roll back guidelines supporting transgender bathroom laws that have taken effect across the country.
New guidelines coming from the White House will probably anger LGBTQ rights groups and add confusion to a case that is headed to the Supreme Court.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told the media that this is a states’ right issue and not a federal government issue. The Trump Administration is expected to issue “further guidance,” but Spicer was unable to provide a set timeline.
The White House issued a letter to schools, saying they are withdrawing guidance set by the Obama White House which declares that denying transgender students the right to use the bathroom of their choice violates federal prohibitions against sex discrimination.
Trump’s letter says that schools must protect all students and the withdrawal of the Obama guidelines does not remove any protections from bullying and harassment that exist for all students. Schools must ensure that transgender students, like all students, are able to learn in a “safe environment.”
Trump’s decision would not immediately affect the nation’s public school students because a federal judge put a hold on the Obama Administration directive. Gay rights groups have condemned the possible move.
“Such clear action directed at children would be a brazen and shameless attack on hundreds of thousands of young Americans who must already defend themselves against schoolyard bullies, but are ill-equipped to fight bullies on the floors of their state legislatures and in the White House,” Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, said in a statement Tuesday.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has been a strong opponent of the Obama decision, calling it the most important issue for the families in schools since the Supreme Court ruling against school-sponsored prayer.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has been a longtime opponent of increasing LGBT rights. He previously endorsed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and opposed expanding hate crime legislation to include acts against gay and transgender people. Currently fifteen states have protections for transgender students.