In a move they say is in favor of “states rights,” the Department of Justice and Department of Education, with newly installed leadership, has rescinded Obama era advisory standards to let transgender children use the bathroom of their choice.
The Obama era advisory suggested that students have the right to use the bathroom of their choice due to Title IX rules against discrimination. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who opposes expansion of LGBT rights, swiftly sought to change the position of the DOJ on protections for trans students, since pending court cases on this issue could have drawn the DOJ into litigation.
Last August, a federal court placed an injunction on the Obama DOJ advisory, rendering it essentially ineffective. Yet, the Sessions-Trump DOJ wanted to further bolster its indifference towards trans children by formally withdrawing the federal advisory.
The New York Times reports that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was initially resistant to these changes, concerned that rolling back these rules could potentially harm transgender students. However, yesterday at CPAC DeVos defended the decision, saying they represented overreach by the Obama administration.
The claim that the Obama administration had involved itself in government overreach in staking a position on this issue is laughable, since the very idea that anyone who would prevent a transgender child from using a bathroom in accord with their correct gender (rather than the one they were mis-assigned at birth) is invasive, presumptuous and discriminatory.
In addition, the ease with which the language of state’s rights is being so easily rolled out in relation to a civil rights issues by the Justice Department is disturbing. Anyone familiar with the history of the Black civil rights movement or the marriage equality movement will remember that the federal government essentially facilitated years of civil rights violations by placing the responsibility for civil rights on the shoulders of the states and refusing to interfere with federal legislation.
Sessions has a strong record against LGBTQ rights, taking every opportunity to oppose them in Congress. Sessions does not believe that attacks on LGBTQ folks should qualify as a hate crime. It is disturbing, to say the least, that Sessions is in charge of the DOJ and this ruling demonstrates that he is ready and willing to lead the charge against protections for LGBTQ people.
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