Transgender Rights Left for States To Decide

by Dinah Aguilar ‘19

The Trump administration administration reversed a federal directive requiring public schools to allow students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identities. The Obama administration ruling, issued last year, was protected under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, which prohibits sex discrimination in educational programs, sports, and facilities receiving federal financial assistance.

The reversal is having immediate ramifications on current cases fighting for transgender students’ rights. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), on behalf of Gavin Grimm, a 17-year-old transgender student who was barred from using the boy’s bathroom, recently sued the Gloucester County School Board in Virginia for changing their bathroom policy.

The Supreme Court was scheduled to hear the Grimm vs. Gloucester County case this month, but due to the policy change, the Court sent the case back to the U.S. Court of Appeals. The 4th Circuit will now decide whether Title IX protects the rights of Grimm and other transgender students.

Following the decision, states can create their own bathroom policies. States like Texas and North Carolina, which have been in the news of late for discriminatory laws and proposals, will now be able to prohibit transgender students from accessing facilities or being recognized by their gender identity by the school system. Texas is looking to pass a bill that would require people to use the bathroom of the sex on their birth certificate.

Following the president’s actions, the Montgomery County Board of Education President, Michael Durso, and Superintendent, Jack Smith, issued a letter clarifying that students “must be provided access to gender specific facilities (e.g. bathrooms, locker rooms, changing rooms) in alignment with their consistently asserted gender identity.”