The Administration’s recent actions through the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education contradicts both agencies’ May 2016 “Dear Colleague Letter,” which provided clear guidance on how Title IX should be applied to provide discrimination protections for transgender students about school facilities, school records, and dress codes. Under the law, both federal agencies are mandated to enforce equal protections and opportunities for ALL students, regardless of a student’s gender identity.
Although the Administration’s action does not actually change the law that protects transgender students from sex discrimination and harassment in school, it sends a strong signal that enforcement of Title IX protections is no longer a priority. This withdrawal of guidance denies equal educational opportunities for transgender students within district school systems across the nation, while jeopardizing the civil rights protections and safety of those students. It also causes potential confusion for school districts, who now lack critical federal guidance on violence prevention, bullying, sexual harassment, and assault matters that they encounter daily and remain subject to Title IX liability.
We have seen marked success in the treatment of transgender students in school systems across the nation since the implementation of the 2016 guidance, Therefore, NAPE questions the Administration’s rationale for this decision and joins those makers, organizations, education agencies, families, and students in recognizing the necessity for the rescinded guidance and enforcement of those provisions in Title IX, that protect the rights, safety, and dignity of transgender students. In addition, we call on all school districts to meet their obligation to enforce all the provisions under Title IX to ensure that EVERY student is afforded the same protections and educational opportunities under the law.