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Trump's Department of Education Admits It Actively Doesn't Care About Transgender Students

Confirming suspicions that it was not pursuing discrimination complaints, administration accused of refusing to "recognize the basic human and civil rights of transgender students."

Gavin Grimm, a Virginia teen who filed suit against the Gloucester County school board for blocking his use of the boys' bathroom. (Photo: Geoff Livingston/flickr/cc)

Trump's Education Department said it will not it will not investigate or act on complaints from transgender students who charge they were barred from using a bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.

The Department clarified the position to BuzzFeed News, which first reported it Monday.

"Once again, Secretary DeVos proves she is not interested in protecting transgender students and instead is choosing to advance the dangerous Trump-Pence anti-LGBTQ agenda."
—Sarah Warbelow, HRC
Last February, the Trump administration withdrew Obama-era guidance that instructed schools to allow transgender students access to bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity, and in June the department indicated it may dismiss some cases related to trans students' bathroom access.

Attempting to clarify the department's position, education department spokesperson Liz Hill told BuzzFeed Thursday, "yes, that's what the law says" when asked again if the department believes that transgender students are not covered by Title IX, a federal anti-discrimination law.

Hill added Friday, "Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity."

According to Hill, "long-standing regulations provide that separating facilities on the basis of sex is not a form of discrimination prohibited by Title IX."

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That stance is in direct opposition to what two federal appeals courts found.

"While civil rights advocates have suspected that the Department of Education was not acting on complaints brought forward by transgender students, reports that these violations are completely being ignored are reprehensible," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director at advocacy group Human Rights Campaign.

"The department's failure to act conflicts with the law in multiple jurisdictions, including federal circuits, and further emboldens those who seek to discriminate against transgender students. Once again, Secretary [Betsy] DeVos proves she is not interested in protecting transgender students and instead is choosing to advance the dangerous Trump-Pence anti-LGBTQ agenda," she said.

The new report comes a week after the parents of over 700 transgender students across the country wrote (pdf) to DeVos to express their "outrage and deep concern over the repeated injustices committed by the Trump-Pence Administration's Department of Education against transgender students."

"For those transgender youth who spend entire school days without access to a restroom, often foregoing food and water in order to avoid the need for using one, equal access to education is an impossibility. We urge and implore you to see the urgency of these concerns," they concluded, "and to recognize the basic human and civil rights of transgender students."

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