On Wednesday night, the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education issued a joint Dear Colleague letter withdrawing federal guidance promising transgender public school students access to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of the gender with which they identify. The Obama administration controversially extended such protection last year, warning that schools that failed to comply were at risk of losing federal funding for violating Title IX’s prohibition of discrimination based on sex.
Yesterday’s letter claimed the previous guidance did not “contain extensive legal analysis or explain how the position is consistent with the express language of Title IX, nor did they undergo any formal public process.” As a result, the Trump administration will give “due regard for the primary role of states and local school districts in establishing educational policy.”
Civil liberties and LGBT rights groups are understandably up in arms after the letter. However, the effect of the withdrawal should not be overstated. The effect of the letter will likely be marginal considering how divisive Obama-era guidance was from the outset.