WICHITA FALLS, Texas – The Trump administration will not pursue legal action to force schools to comply with former President Obama’s national decree on transgender student policies.
The government canceled a planned hearing for Tuesday in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, where the Obama administration was working to overturn a national ban blocking schools from following the Justice Department’s “guidance” on transgender student issues, CNN reports.
Last year, President Obama issued a decree to all schools through the Justice Department that threatened the loss of federal funding for schools that do not comply with his interpretation of Title IX sex discrimination laws.
Twelve states sued the Justice Department because the “guidance” would have forced schools to allow transgender students to use whatever bathroom, locker room and shower facilities they choose, and many officials rightly believe the decree endangers student safety and compromises privacy. Numerous other states also sued the department in Nebraska.
In August, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor granted a preliminary injunction in the Texas case that prevents the Justice Department from forcing the transgender rules on schools until the legality of the “guidance” is sorted out in the courts, EAGnews reports.
O’Connor wrote that the federal Title IX law is “not ambiguous” and clearly applied to biological sex when the law was written. The judge found the Obama administration’s “guidelines” are “compulsory in nature” because they’re tied to federal education funding, and ordered all schools nationwide to “maintain the status quo” for the time being, NPR reported in August.
The Obama administration appealing the ruling.
But on Friday, the day after Alabama U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions was sworn in as the 84th Attorney General of the United States, the Justice Department and the 12 states in the Texas case filed a joint motion to cancel this week’s hearing.
“The parties are currently considering how to best proceed in this appeal,” the motion read, according to CNN.
The “news” site cited the legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, Sarah Warbelow, about what the change means for the country’s schools.
“It is sending a signal they don’t intend to enforce the guidance in any state,” she said. “They are fine with their hands being tied.”
The gay rights champion said she was “extraordinarily disappointed” by the move.
“The DOJ should be a champion for all students’ civil rights and by signaling a willingness to be bound by the injunction nationwide they are certainly signaling they aren’t intending to pursue civil rights for transgender people,” she said.
Meanwhile, U.S. Supreme Court announced in early February that it intends to take up the case of transgender student Gavin Grimm on March 28. Grimm, a biologically female student who “identifies” as male, sued the Gloucester County School Board because school officials won’t allow the teen to use the boy’s bathroom.
The school district offered Grimm a private bathroom because of his condition, but Grimm has argued that’s not good enough, and he wants full use of the boy’s facilities.
The ACLU, which is representing Grimm in the case, alleges the school district’s biologically based bathroom policy violates the U.S. Constitution and Title IX sex discrimination laws.
The Supreme Court previously instituted a stay on a lower court ruling in Grimm’s favor, WTVR reports.