As expected, the Trump administration on Wednesday ended federal protection for transgender students that required schools to allow them to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identities, the AP reports. The administration came down on the side of states' rights, lifting federal guidelines that had been issued by the Obama administration. Without the Obama directive, it will be up to states and school districts to interpret federal anti-discrimination law and determine whether students should have access to restrooms in accordance with their expressed gender identity and not just their biological sex. The Obama guidance did not sufficiently explain how federal sex discrimination law known as Title IX also applies to gender identity, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement.
In a letter to the nation's schools, the Justice and Education departments said the earlier guidance "has given rise to significant litigation regarding school restrooms and locker rooms." The agencies withdrew the guidance to "in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved." Anti-bullying safeguards would not be affected by the change, according to the letter. "All schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment," it said. It was not clear what immediate impact the change would have on schools, as a federal judge in Texas put a temporary hold on the Obama guidance soon after it was issued—after 13 states sued.