Could Title IX Affect Trump's Bathroom Memo?

by Crystal Lewis

Title IX is a federal law that requires schools, from elementary schools to universities, not to discriminate against any students or staff on the basis of gender. Title IX has been especially important to LGBTQ students, who face higher rates of bullying and discrimination at school simply for being who they are. Now, President Donald Trump has removed guidelines allowing transgender students from using school bathrooms that don't align with their perceived sex. Instead of the rights being federally protected, states will get to decide whether students can use the bathrooms of their identities. So is Trump's transgender bathroom order against Title IX?

Title IX protects students no matter their gender, and regardless of their gender expression. The Trump Administration rescinded President Barack Obama's guidelines protecting transgender students' bathroom rights because Trump's administration felt that there was no reason those rights were upheld by Title IX, Fox reported. The move to push back these guidelines reportedly came from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The decision was not unanimous: CNN reported that Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos was against revoking the bathroom guidelines because of how this may impact transgender students. However, DeVos agreed to the new guidance, since she would have been going against Trump, who sided with Sessions.

By revoking protections for transgender students to be able to use whatever bathroom they prefer, many feel that the Trump Administration is setting an example that will allow transgender students to be discriminated against. That's because each time a transgender person tries to use a restroom, he or she is at risk.

A National Center for Transgender Equality Survey shows that 60 percent of transgender people avoid using public bathrooms. That's because they fear being harassed or attacked, which 12 percent of those surveyed reported has happened to them within the past year.

But remember that students don't just have to worry about relieving themselves: most students have gym classes and must use locker rooms, and bathroom protections apply to these spaces as well.

DeVos released a statement that the issue of what bathrooms transgender students can or cannot use "is an issue best solved at the state and local level. Schools, communities, and families can find — and in many cases have found — solutions that protect all students."

DeVos insisted that protecting LGBTQ students is a "key priority," and wanted to include language showing that the Department of Education will continue to investigate incidents of discrimination to avoid confusion. But how the Department of Education will prevent discrimination against these vulnerable groups without President Obama's guidelines is unclear. Romper could not reach DeVos for further comment.

Basically, this leaves it up to individual schools whether transgender students have the right to use any bathroom regardless of what sex they were born. That means the new guidance will likely be a problem in states such as North Carolina, which have current laws banning people from using bathrooms that don't match the sex on their birth certificate.

Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement that "transgender students simply want to go to school in the morning without fear of discrimination or harassment," according to the HRC website. He continued:

The consequences of this decision will no doubt be heartbreaking. This isn’t a ‘states rights’ issue, it’s a civil rights issue. Children deserve protection from bullying no matter what state they live in. Period.

This move is sad, because a large percent — about 40 — of the transgender population have attempted suicide, and many live in poverty. The last thing they need to worry about is where they are allowed to pee.