Title IX and Transgender Student Rights
Yesterday afternoon, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a statement declaring they will not hear 17-year-old Gavin Grimm’s legal case regarding the protection of transgender student rights in public schools.
This announcement comes just two weeks after the Department of Education released new guidelines regarding the interpretation of Title IX in public schools. In a 2015 statement, the Obama Administration relied on its interpretation of the federal regulation that bans discrimination “on the basis of sex” in schools that receive federal money (NYT). This included protecting the rights of transgender students in public schools to use the restrooms and locker rooms that aligned with their gender identity (NPR).
In August 2016, a federal judge from Texas ruled that the Obama Administration had overreached in this addition to Title IX. In part, the division is based on a disagreement over how broadly the term “sex” should be interpreted by the courts. It is a legal disagreement that will not be settled until the Supreme Court makes a decision (NPR).
When the Supreme Court put Grimm’s case on the hearing docket for 2017, the guidelines from the Obama Administration were still explicitly in place, and included explicit wording regarding the fair and equal treatment of transgender students. Now, after these guidelines were rescinded under the Trump Administration, the Supreme Court has put the case on hold to await clearer legal guidelines (NYT).
However, civil rights organizations are adamant that the new announcement does not rescind Title IX or statewide protections for transgender students. "Trump's actions do not change the law itself -- transgender students remain protected by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 -- but abandoning the guidance intentionally creates confusion about what federal law requires," Rachel B. Tiven, CEO of Lambda Legal, said in a statement (CNN).
It is this confusion and change in federal guidance that caused the Supreme Court to put a hold on hearing Grimm’s case this year. Because there will be no federal ruling regarding legal protections for transgender students, cases will have to be decided individually by the states (CNN). This means that if a state does not have an official stance regarding the treatment of transgender students decision-making will be left to individual districts.
This is just one more in a series of attacks on the transgender community by the Trump administration, and gives further insight into what the next four years may hold for both the transgender community and the LGBTQ+ community as a whole. For community resources and support, please reach out to the Pride Center or Outright Vermont.
-Alanna Moriarty, Blogging and Social Media Intern
Infographic from NYT