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The Trump administration Wednesday told public school districts across the nation that they no longer have to allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.
The word came in a statement from Education Secretary Betsey DeVos that she was withdrawing a directive issued under President Barack Obama that required school districts to let transgender students use whichever bathroom conformed to their gender identity or risk the loss of federal funding.
At the same time, the Trump administration told the Supreme Court that the Obama administration bathroom directive had been withdrawn. The court was scheduled to hear a challenge to the directive next month.
The Trump withdrawal of the Obama directive drew immediate criticism from gay and lesbian groups, which accused him of backtracking on a campaign pledge to protect transgender students.
“What could possibly motivate a blind and cruel attack on young children like this?” asked Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, which bills itself as the nation’s largest civil rights organization for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. “These transgender students simply want to go to school in the morning without fear of discrimination or harassment. The consequences of this decision will no doubt be heartbreaking.”
But new guidance from the Trump administration cautioned that transgender students are still protected from bullying and other discrimination.
In January, the White House announced Trump would leave in tact an Obama executive order that protected gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the workplace.
“President Trump continues to be respectful and supportive of LGBTQ rights, just as he was throughout the election,” the White House said in a statement. “The president is proud to have been the first ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBTQ community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression.”