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Trump administration cancels transgender student bathroom guidance

Trump administration cancels transgender student bathroom guidanceThe Trump administration on Wednesday ended federal protection for transgender students that allowed them to use public school bathrooms and locker rooms matching their gender identities, Associated Press reported.

The Justice and Education departments said in a letter being sent to school districts nationwide that the Obama-era guidance caused a spike in lawsuits over how the guidance should be applied.

It will now 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.

"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," she added.

Although the earlier directive carried no force of law, transgender rights advocates say it was necessary to protect students from discrimination. Opponents argue it was an example of federal overreach.

According to a study by The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, about 150,000 young people — 0.7 percent of those between the ages of 13 and 17 — in the United States identify as transgender.

The Obama administration last May told public schools to grant bathroom access even if a student's chosen gender identity isn't the same as what's in their record. The Obama administration's guidance was based on its determination that Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education and activities, also applies to gender identity.

President Barack Obama's guidance was not legally binding but sent a warning that schools could lose funding if they did not comply with the administration's interpretation of the law.

Republicans immediately pushed back, arguing it was an example of the Obama administration meddling in local matters.

Even without the guidelines, advocates say federal law will still prohibit discrimination against students based on their gender or sexual orientation. The ACLU said schools remain free to provide the same treatment to students even without guidance.
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