By Diane Robertson
Hardly anyone can forget how in May of 2016, the Obama Administration made an announcement that under Title IX, all schools receiving any form of federal funding must allow students to use the gendered bathroom of their choice. The issue was in the news almost daily.
There were two court cases concerning this issue going through the system about this time. One, G.G. V. Gloucester County School Board, covering exactly this issue, was even awaiting a hearing at the Supreme Court. Then in February 2017, the Trump administration said that school transgender bathroom issues belonged to the local school districts and the states, and that the Obama administration change did “not contain extensive legal analysis or explain the position is consistent with the express language of Title IX, nor did they undergo any formal public process.”
In March, the Supreme Court dropped G.G. V. Gloucester County School Board sending it back to the lower court.
The change, however, did not last long. In plenty of time for the 2017-2018 school year, the Trump department of education’s office of civil rights (OCR) reinstated the Obama transgender policy with these five instructions for public schools.
- OCR may “assert subject matter jurisdiction” over transgenderism. OCR gave itself the power to act when a transgender student files a complaint alleging sex discrimination.
- OCR further asserts jurisdiction when the office finds that “sexual” or “gender-based” harassment creates a “hostile environment” for transgender students. An example given in the document sets failure by a school to use the “preferred name or pronoun” of the transgender student as harassment and a reason take over for local authorities.
- OCR requires public schools and colleges to take affirmative steps in addressing anything OCR defines as a “hostile environment” for transgender students.
- Schools may not retaliate against a transgender student who raises a sex discrimination complaint.
- Schools may not engage in “differential treatment” of a student based on what the document labels as “sex stereotyping,” or failure of a student to conform to common notions of masculinity and femininity.
This document quietly appeared, without fanfare, reinstating very controversial transgender policies. Once again, the federal government has removed local control over school bathroom, locker room, dorm room, and sports team policies. If parents have a problem with what is happening in the bathrooms or locker rooms of their child’s school, they will have to meet with officials in Washington.
Federal transgender bathroom rules are back.