On Feb. 22, the Trump administration rescinded federal protections for transgender students that instructed schools to allow them to use restrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identities.
“This is an issue best solved at the state and local level,” Education Secretary Betsy DeVos said. “Schools, communities, and families can find—and in many cases have found—solutions that protect all students.”
In a joint letter from the justice and education departments, it said the federal rule was devised “without due regard for the primary role of the states and local school districts in establishing educational policy.”
Without the federal guideline, it will be up to states and school districts to interpret the anti-discrimination law and determine a solution to the issue.
Education Commissioner Cynthia Deleon Guerrero said: “It’s really important that [schools] continue to recognize and respect the students and their choices.”
She said an administrative policy on the issue would be placed in the hands of school principals. “They need to look at their student population and at their concerns so that they are able to express themselves freely,” Guerrero added. “A federal law is a federal law. When there’s a change in administration, it does not change the fact that we still have to address the students’ needs. That continues to be our primary focus.”
In a letter to the nation’s schools, the justice and education departments said, “All schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment.”
At Hopwood Middle School, principal Rizalina P. Liwag said that the school respects students who identify themselves as a different gender.
“We have a restroom in [Hopwood’s] office that is gender-neutral. Depending on the student’s needs, they are able to freely use the [office] restroom,” Liwag said.
Fifteen states have explicit protections for transgender students in their state laws, and some individual school districts in other states have adopted policies that cover students on the basis of their gender identity.