The Department of Education stated Monday that it would not be investigating complaints by transgender students regarding public school bathroom use, since Title IX applies to biological sex and not gender identity.
Meanwhile, major news outlets are voicing their disgust, saying this amounts to substantial assault on civil rights, while virtually ignoring all concerns related to privacy or the implications of replacing sex with gender identity.
Buzzfeed recounted Monday that they had been pressing the Department of Education for the past three weeks to nail down the agencies stance on the bathroom issue after what they say was an unclear position following a series of changes the Trump administration made in 2017.
In February of last year Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos rescinded the Obama Administration's 2016 Dear Colleague guidance letter to public schools, which said that students must be allowed to use the bathroom that corresponds with the gender with which they self-identify and threatened to withhold federal funds if schools did not comply. In June, the Education Department put out another memo that stated it was "permissible" for the agencies civil rights division to throw out a trans student's restroom case.
Elizabeth Hill, a DOE spokesperson told Buzzfeed that the law says that such complaints are not covered by Title IX, a 1972 civil rights statute that forbids discrimination on the basis of sex. While complaints pertaining to harassment from transgender students will be investigated, separate restroom facilities do not constitute discrimination, she said.
Buzzfeed called the Trump administration's rollback of the Obama administration's 2016 move "charting new ground" in what has been a "year-long broadside against LGBT rights." Although two federal appeals courts that encompass seven states have recently interpreted Title IX to extend to gender identity and have issued rulings that say that not allowing students to use the bathroom of their choice is a violation of the statute, the Trump administration's ground is not especially "new."
The Heritage Foundation's Ryan Anderson, who is the author of the new book When Harry Became Sally: Responding to The Transgender Moment, remarked of the events on Twitter: "The Trump Administration has announced it'll enforce federal law the same way the Obama Administration did for its first term. The Left claims this is 'charting new ground in the Trump administration's year-long broadside against LGBT rights.'"
The Trump Administration has announced it'll enforce federal law the same way the Obama Administration did for its first term. The Left claims this is "charting new ground in the Trump administration's year-long broadside against LGBT rights." https://t.co/Sx7tkGRz8Y— Ryan T. Anderson (@RyanTAnd) February 12, 2018
In the final stretch of the Obama presidency the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case about this issue out of Virginia but ended up vacating it after the Justice Department, under Trump, withdrew its support.
The Department of Education reportedly declined to answer questions about how the agency justifies its position given the federal court rulings, or why it will not accept such complaints arising even from students from those states.
In its reporting of the DOE's statement Monday, NPR, which is funded by taxpayers, only cited gay rights group GLSEN for a response, which called the clarification of policy "cruel."
The Washington Post in its coverage also did not include any response from those who object to gender identity eclipsing biological sex and its implications. The Post's account Monday briefly mentions the Education Department's contention that where they do not have jurisdiction based on current law they do not investigate claims "aligns with the view held by some conservative legal groups, which have sued on behalf of students made uncomfortable by sharing restrooms with their transgender classmates, saying it violates student privacy."
Neither the Post, Buzzfeed, nor NPR noted that Women's Liberation Front, a radical feminist organization, also sued the federal government over this, because they objected to the legal redefinition of sex to include gender identity, arguing that the reinterpretation of Title IX was an extreme departure from the statutes original meaning and function.