The U.S. Department of Education won't investigate complaints from transgender students who have been prohibited by their schools from using the bathroom that corresponds to their gender identity, according to a new report from Buzzfeed News.
BuzzFeed reporter (and former Stranger news editor) Dominic Holden reports:
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.
For the past three weeks, BuzzFeed News called and emailed Education Department officials attempting to pinpoint the agency’s position.
Finally on Thursday, Liz Hill, a spokesperson for the agency, responded “yes, that’s what the law says” when asked again if the Education Department holds a current position that restroom complaints from transgender students are not covered by a 1972 federal civil rights law called Title IX.
Asked for further explanation on the department’s position, Hill said Friday, “Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity.”
In Washington state, civil rights laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of gender expression and gender identity in all public buildings, including stores, schools, offices, eateries, etc. While this protects trans people in public spaces—and means trans students and adults can use the bathroom or locker room that corresponds to their gender identity—there have been multiple attempts by roll back those protections. In 2016 and 2017, activists from Just Want Privacy tried and failed to collect enough signatures to get initiatives on the ballot that would have required people to use the bathroom of their sex at birth. But they haven't given up yet: After their defeat last July, Kaeley Triller Haver, a conservative Christian and the communications director of Just Want Privacy, joined forces with anti-trans radical feminists opposed to gender identity legislation to form Hands Across the Aisle, a coalition of woman pushing to re-segregate bathrooms and other public spaces on the basis of sex at birth.
Over the course of the one-year-old Trump administration, Attorney General Jeff Sessions withdrew Obama-era policies protecting trans workers, and the President unsuccessfully attempted to ban trans people from serving in the military.