Trump Administration Withdraws Defense of Obama's Transgender Student Policy

On Attorney General Jeff Sessions' second day at the helm, the Justice Department stepped back from expanding transgender rights, a position it had established under the Obama administration.

As previously reported, after 13 states sued the Obama administration a year ago over its directives, which warned that "a$3 s a condition of receiving federal funds, a school agrees that it will not exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat differently on the basis of sex any person in its educational programs or activities unless expressly authorized to do so under Title IX or its implementing regulations".

The Trump administration's refusal to defend the law essentially means that the federal government will no longer view prohibiting males from female facilities or vice versa as "sex discrimination" under the federal Title IX law.

U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor issued a temporary injunction past year blocking the policy.

The Obama administration was challenging the injunction's nationwide application, arguing it should only be limited to the 13 suing states.

Just 24 hours after Jeff Sessions was confirmed as the new attorney general, the US Department of Justice requested to halt President Obama's order that protected transgender students across America.

But on Friday night the Justice Department and the states filed a joint notice saying both sides moved to cancel the hearing.

Though the withdrawal doesn't immediately affect students in a tangible way due to the ongoing Texas court order, it signals the unlikelihood of Trump's Justice Department moving forward on transgender rights.

In an interview last May with The Washington Post, Trump, who was then the Republican nominee for president, said it was important to protect the rights of transgender people but thought the decision of how to direct schools to deal with transgender students was best left up to the states. "While the immediate impact of this initial legal maneuver is limited, it is a frightening sign that the Trump administration is ready to discard its obligation to protect all students".

Keisling worries, however, that the Trump administration will work against longstanding protections against discrimination. Oral arguments had been scheduled for February 14 and no new date was requested or proposed in the joint request filed Friday.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission - an independent agency - maintains a separate case seeking to uphold that pro-transgender interpretation of Title IX.

All of this comes after President Trump announced that he would not be attempting to curb the rights of transgender people. A lower court ordered ruled in Gavin's favor in August, but the school board has appealed to the Supreme Court.