Washington D.C., Feb 13, 2017 / 01:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- President Donald Trump’s administration will stop fighting in court to implement the Obama administration’s transgender bathroom policy, leading to applause from a religious freedom legal group. “This is good news for the privacy, safety, and dignity of young students across America,” stated Gary McCaleb, senior counsel with the legal group Alliance Defending Freedom.
On Friday, the Trump administration announced that it was dropping the government’s appeal on behalf of the Obama administration’s transgender bathroom guidance. That guidance had directed schools to allow students to use the bathroom or locker room of the gender they currently identify with, not the facilities of their birth or biological sex.
In August, the Northern District of Texas federal court placed an injunction on the policy, halting it from going into effect. In response to the injunction, the Obama administration appealed its case to the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals. That appeal was dropped on Friday, a decision McCaleb praised as “the first steps to end” the Obama administration’s “error.”
The guidance in question was an interpretation of Title IX of the Civil Rights Act, which forbids discrimination “on the basis of sex” within “any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.” In its interpretation, the administration said the Title IX anti-discrimination protections include those for gender identity, meaning that transgender students had to have access to facilities of the gender with which they identified, like single-sex locker rooms and bathrooms.
In response to the Trump administration’s decision to drop the government’s appeal, McCaleb said the Obama administration’s policy had “radically distorted” Title IX, which “was intended to equalize educational opportunities for women.” Leading U.S. bishops had expressed serious concerns with the guidance, saying that it “contradicts a basic understanding of human formation so well expressed by Pope Francis: that ‘the young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created’.”
“Children, youth, and parents in these difficult situations deserve compassion, sensitivity, and respect,” said Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo and Archbishop George Lucas of Omaha, chairs of the committees on youth and Catholic education, respectively. “All of these can be expressed without infringing on legitimate concerns about privacy and security on the part of the other young students and parents. The federal regulatory guidance issued on May 13 does not even attempt to achieve this balance.”
The August injunction by the Texas district court came weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court had halted from going into effect a Fourth Circuit Court ruling that a transgender student had to be able to access the public school bathroom of their choice. The Court will hear that case of Gavin Grimm this term.
“It is only common sense to ensure privacy for all students by keeping boys out of girls' locker rooms and vice versa,” McCaleb said. “It’s right to respect the real differences between boys and girls, because that protects the privacy, safety, and dignity of all students.”