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Education Dept. Will Reject Transgender Students’ Bathroom Complaints

by Countable | 2.12.18

What’s the story?

The U.S. Department of Education will not investigate complaints from transgender students who have been denied access to bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity.

"Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity," Education Department spokesperson Liz Hill told Buzzfeed, which broke the story.

Why does it matter?

As Buzzfeed explained, "It’s the first time officials have asserted this position publicly as an interpretation of law. No formal announcement has been made."

Hill said some transgender complaints may be investigated.

"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," Hill said. But she continued:

"In the case of bathrooms, however, long-standing regulations provide that separating facilities on the basis of sex is not a form of discrimination prohibited by Title IX."

Not everyone agrees with this interpretation of the law. Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said in a statement that "while civil rights advocates have suspected that the Department of Education was not acting on complaints brought forward by transgender students, reports that these violations are completely being ignored are reprehensible."

Warbelow added:

"The department’s failure to act conflicts with the law in multiple jurisdictions, including federal circuits, and further emboldens those who seek to discriminate against transgender students. Once again, Secretary DeVos proves she is not interested in protecting transgender students and instead is choosing to advance the dangerous Trump-Pence anti-LGBTQ agenda."

In the past, the Trump administration has tried to ban transgender people from serving in the military and rolled back Obama-era guidance that stated transgender students could use the bathroom matching their gender identity.

What do you think?

Should transgender students be protected by Title IX? Should they be allowed to use the bathroom matching their gender identity? Does Congress need to create a law to protect transgender students? Hit Take Action and tell your reps, then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: mrtom-uk / iStock)

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