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Department of Education Refuses to Hear Transgender Bathroom Complaints
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Betsy Devos. Photo courtesy of CNN.

Summary: The Department of Education has decided to not investigate bathroom complaints filed by transgender students. 

The Department of Education’s stand on transgender bathroom issues is to not investigate or enforce any action, according to Buzzfeed News. This stance was not made as a formal announcement, but it is their interpretation of the law.


“The Education Department has told BuzzFeed News it won’t investigate or take action on any complaints filed by transgender students who are banned from restrooms that match their gender identity, charting new ground in the Trump administration’s year-long broadside against LGBT rights,” Buzzfeed News stated.

After same-sex marriage was legalized in the US in 2015, the issue of transgender bathroom usage became a major talking point in the country. Transgender students wanted the right to use the school restroom of their choice, and they wanted to be physically protected from bullies when doing so. However, opponents felt that it was unsafe to allow a different sex into a restroom, and some states attempted to pass rules that forced people to use the restroom and locker room of the sex that they were born.

Since Trump took office, it seemed as if the administration would side with conservatives, but it had not taken a clear stance until now.

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“When the Education Department and Justice Department withdrew Obama-era guidance on transgender restroom access in February 2017, Trump’s officials said in a memo and court filings that they would “consider the legal issues involved.” Then last June, the Education Department issued another memo saying it was “permissible” for its civil rights division to dismiss a trans student’s restroom case. However, in those statements, officials never cemented their intent to reject all restroom complaints issued by trans students,” Buzzfeed News wrote.

The Department of Education, which is led by Betsy Devos, said that transgender students are not covered by Title IX, a federal civil rights law that was passed in 1972. Title IX states that discrimination based on sex is not permitted, and the DOE said that sex does not include gender identity.

“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,” DOE spokesperson Liz Hill said. “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.”

After the DOE decided to not hear cases involving transgender students, transgender activists expressed their disappointment to Buzzfeed.

“That interpretation represents an appalling abdication of federal enforcement responsibility, inconsistent with the law and with courts’ interpretation of the law, and totally lacking in human compassion for children in school, whom the Department is charged to protect,” Catherine Lhamon said.

Lhamon led the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights during President Barack Obama’s administration.

What do you think of the Department of Education’s stance on transgender bathroom rights? Let us know in the comments below.


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