It’s up to the Trump administration to keep students in the right restrooms and locker rooms, because the courts are taking a pass. The Supreme Court declined to hear the case Joel Doe, et. al v. Boyertown Area School District challenging students’ rights to sex-specific facilities. Even so, the Trump administration has a job to do: enforce federal law.
The federal government is obligated under Title IX to prohibit discrimination “on the basis of sex.” No federal law has defined sex to mean anything but it’s biological fact: male and female — period.
Boyertown students sued their school district for mandating use of restrooms and locker rooms based on “gender identity” not biological sex. Alexis Lightcap, one of the plaintiffs, described the fallout: “Why is it so hard for school officials to understand that young girls care about the privacy of their bodies? It’s natural for us and our parents to worry about who might walk in on us in a vulnerable moment. The school bureaucracy has no right to say my privacy is irrelevant.”
Boyertown’s policy, like many across the country, was imposed after an Obama Dear Colleague letter unilaterally redefined Title IX to say “sex” means “gender identity.” The letter stated, “When a school provides sex-segregated activities and facilities, transgender students must be allowed to participate in such activities and access such facilities consistent with their gender identity.”
Declaring this policy in a letter, not by regulation, the Obama administration skirted the process and kept the American public from weighing in. With a single stroke of the pen, Obama rewrote the meaning of sex in Title IX and tied every cent of federal education money to this new mandate.
No surprise that the power of the federal purse bullied school districts into submission and silenced parents concerned about its impact, especially the risk to girls.
A Decatur, Georgia kindergarten girl experienced assault by a “gender fluid” student using the girls’ bathroom. The U.S Education Department agreed to investigate after a complaint was filed by the family. But another school year has ended, and the Office of Civil Rights has yet to rule.
In Iowa, 20 high school girls defended their privacy rights as female by staging a walk-out to protest a male student identifying as a girl having access to their bathroom.
Whether one pities or protests these cases, the original text of Title IX remains the law. Former Education Secretary Bill Bennett was among a diverse group of amicus filers in the Boyertown case. He argued:
Indeed the legislative history of Title IX makes clear that Congress sought to eliminate sex discrimination precisely because it understood a person’s “sex” to be an immutable characteristic – an accident of birth- just like one’s race or national origin. Any application of Title IX forbidding the separation of restrooms, locker rooms, or showers on the basis of sex is thus not only inconsistent with the text Congress adopted; it is directly contrary to the very understanding of sex that led Congress to target sex discrimination to begin with.”
The Trump administration rightly rescinded Obama’s infamous Dear Colleague letter. But by leaving the issue to local school districts, Trump effectively has declared the federal law irrelevant.
While school districts are no longer on the hook for continuing the errant policy, the purpose of Title IX, which should protect students on the very basis of their sex, has been negated.
For many of us, this issue has become a defining moment for women’s rights. Forget the Supreme Court. It’s time for the Trump administration to step up and do its job enforcing Title IX. Girls will either be protected as female or continue to face greater risk and discrimination.
Doreen Denny is senior director of government relations for the nonprofit Concerned Women for America.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.