US Education Department no longer probing transgender bathroom complaints

Washington: The US Education Department has confirmed that it was no longer investigating civil rights complaints from transgender students banned from using bathrooms conforming with their gender identity, the media reported.

Monday’s announcement reverses a 2016 guidance by former President Barack Obama’s administration that directed public school students to use the bathroom that matched their gender identity, CNN reported.

The administration’s position was that Title IX, the federal law that bans sex discrimination in schools, protects transgender students.

However, the department under President Donald Trump’s administration has a different interpretation of Title IX.

“Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity,” department spokeswoman Elizabeth Hill told CNN on Monday.

“Therefore the question is whether a student (regardless of gender identity) has been discriminated against on the basis of sex. Where students, including transgender students, are penalised or harassed for failing to conform to sex-based stereotypes, that is sex discrimination prohibited by Title IX. In the case of bathrooms, however, longstanding regulations provide that separating facilities on the basis of sex is not a form of discrimination prohibited by Title IX.

“The secretary and the department believe strongly that all students are to be protected from harassment and bullying and have the opportunity to learn in a safe and nurturing environment,” Hill added.

The announcement was widely criticised by civil rights groups, who said it could endanger the welfare of transgender students, CNN reported.

“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,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.