The Department of Education will no longer making it a federal case when transgender students complain about not being allowed to use whatever bathroom they choose.
As The Washington Post reports, the department confirmed Monday that it will no longer conduct formal investigations when a male or female student who identifies with a different gender has to use the bathroom corresponding to their sex at birth.
The policy reversal is a direct contravention of an Obama-era policy that told students they could use whatever bathroom they thought matched their gender identity. President Barack Obama cited a federal law (Title IX) that prohibits sexual discrimination in schools as the justification for this policy.
“Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not 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,” Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Hill told The Washington Post. “In the case of bathrooms, however, longstanding regulations provide that separating facilities on the basis of sex is not a form of discrimination prohibited by Title IX.”
Hill added that, “the secretary and the department believe strongly that all students are to be protected from harassment and bullying and have the opportunity to learn in a safe and nurturing environment.”
The policy reversal was first reported by BuzzFeed News and has angered Democrats like Sen. Patty Murray, who sits on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. She called the decision “an unambiguous step backwards for civil rights in this country.”