President Donald Trump will not continue efforts by former President Barack Obama to ensure transgender students enjoy discrimination-free learning environments.
According to the New York Times, the new administration on Friday dropped the government's appeal of a federal judge's August ruling allowing states to keep in place existing bathroom and locker room gender-segregation practices.
Reed O'Connor, a judge for the Federal District Court for the Northern District of Texas, issued his temporary injunction in response to a July lawsuit filed by 12 states in protest of a declaration by the Obama administration that the nation's public schools allow transgender students to use facilities that best correspond with their gender identity.
The White House argued that under Title IX — the 1972 amendment designed to guard against sex-based discrimination in education — schools that failed to comply could see their federal funding cut.
O'Connor ruled that requiring states to uphold the order would put them in "the position of either maintaining their current policies in the face of the federal government's view that they are violating the law, or changing them to comply with the guidelines and cede their authority over this issue," the New York Times reported.
The Obama administration appealed the judge's decision, asking that the injunction be applied only to the states that brought the lawsuit — rather than nationwide — but Trump took office before the appeals process could advance. In its withdraw of the challenge, the Justice Department filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, stating "the parties are currently considering how best to proceed in this appeal."
For his part, Trump is on the record as saying transgender individuals "should use the bathroom they feel is appropriate." One month later, Trump somewhat qualified his assertion, telling the Washington Post that although "... you've got to protect all people, even though it's a tiny percentage of 1%," he thought the task should be left to the states versus the federal government.
Whatever Trump's personal thoughts on the matter of equal bathroom access may have been, he seems to have let Republican Party doctrine replace them.
Needless to say, LGBTQ advocates were not pleased with Friday's decision.
"Transgender students are entitled to the full protection of the U.S. Constitution and our federal nondiscrimination laws," Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement, according to the Post. "It is heartbreaking and wrong that the agency tasked with enforcing civil rights laws would instead work to subvert them for political interests."