Christian and conservative leaders have praised the Trump administration for rescinding the Barack Obama administration's guidance telling public schools to allow students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity and not their biological sex for Title IX purposes.
Evangelist Franklin Graham took to Facebook to celebrate the decision: "Some good news from Washington on the transgender bathroom issue! President Donald J. Trump is doing away with Obama's transgender bathroom edict for schools to let students use the restroom, locker room, and showers of their choice rather than of the gender on their birth certificate. Americans, let the White House know how important safety, privacy, and common sense rulings like this are to you and your family!"
Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, also praised the move: "I'm very glad to see the Trump Administration revoke these guidelines. This move is good for parents and good for families," Moore said. "Children are not pawns of the state to be used to advance the latest fashionable 'right side of history' cause. Christians must continue to insist that the worldview of the sexual revolution harms men and women and advocate for the inherent dignity of all."
Tony Perkins, head of the conservative group Family Research Council called it "great news": "The Trump administration's reversal of the mandate on schools is a victory for parents, children, and privacy. The persistence of parents was far stronger than the government's power of coercion. Parents refused to allow their child's innocence to be sacrificed on the altar of government imposed political correctness. And now, thanks to the Trump administration, parents and schools will remain free to protect the privacy and well-being of every student."
As reported in The Gospel Herald last May, Obama had ordered public schools to allow transgender students use the bathrooms matching their chosen gender identity, and threatened to withhold funding for schools that did not comply.
At the time, thirteen states sued to stop the Obama guidelines, and a U.S. district judge in Texas temporarily halted their full implementation.
On Wednesday evening, the Departments of Education and Justice issued a joint "Dear Colleague Letter" which rescinded the order and said the Obama administration had failed to substantiate the claim that Title IX's prohibition on "sex" discrimination in education also applies to gender identity.
"In these circumstances, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice have decided to withdraw and rescind the above-referenced guidance documents in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved," the order reads. "The Departments thus will not rely on the views expressed within them."
The guidance also said the federal government must recognize "the primary role of the States and local school districts in establishing education policy."
In other words, it will be up to states and school districts - not the federal government - to interpret federal anti-discrimination law and determine whether students should have access to restrooms in accordance with their expressed gender identity and not just their biological sex.
The letter also clarified that anti-bullying safeguards would not be affected by the change: "All schools must ensure that all students, including LGBT students, are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment," it said.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer asserted Tuesday that "the president has maintained for a long time that this is a states' rights issue and not one for the federal government."
"I think that all you have to do is look at what the president's view has been for a long time, that this is not something the federal government should be involved in, that this is a states' rights issue," Spicer explained.