WASHINGTON — Today the Trump administration rescinded federal guidance concerning nondiscrimination protections for transgender students under Title IX. The guidance, which was not legally binding but based on growing legal precedent, instructed schools on how to comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 by ensuring that transgender students have equal access to school programs and activities in accordance with their gender identity. The guidance was issued by the Departments of Justice and Education last year and was modeled after similar guidance issued in Massachusetts pursuant to the Commonwealth’s education nondiscrimination laws.
“As the federal government rolls back its efforts to protect transgender youth from discrimination, it’s more important than ever that the Commonwealth already has these nondiscrimination protections in place under state law,” said Kasey Suffredini, co-chair of Freedom Massachusetts, the successful bipartisan campaign to update Massachusetts’ laws in 2016 to include comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for transgender residents and visitors. “The administration’s announcement has no impact on the Commonwealth’s laws protecting students from discrimination in schools, under which schools have been successfully balancing the needs of all students for years, ensuring that transgender students – who already face exponentially higher levels of bullying and harassment than their peers – can participate fully and succeed in school just like their non-transgender peers. As always, Massachusetts is and remains a beacon of liberty and fairness, a point of local pride that matters more now than ever.”
“Here in Massachusetts we have seen, first hand, the successful implementation of trans-inclusive policies in our public schools,” said Mason Dunn, co-chair of Freedom Massachusetts and executive director of the Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition (MTPC), the statewide organization dedicated to ending oppression and discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression. “The 2011 DESE guidance, and its implementation, made it clear that open and affirming policies for transgender students is simply good educational practice. Today’s federal withdrawal of guidance is sadly a departure from what many of the nation’s educators, school administrators, health professionals, and students know to be true: that access to affirming schools is a matter of safety, health, and wellness for transgender youth. We will not stop advocating for the rights and dignity of transgender youth or students, regardless of this administration’s failure to prioritize the needs of our community.”
Fourteen states, including Massachusetts, already have policies in place that affirm the rights of transgender students in schools. More than 40% of public school students nationwide attend schools that support transgender students. Massachusetts’ guidance remains in effect.
The administration’s decision to rescind the federal guidance has no impact on schools that are already doing the right thing – they can and will continue to protect transgender students. Federal laws that are used to protect transgender students have not changed, and school districts across the country must still comply with the law.
The Supreme Court will hear oral argument in the historic transgender equality case G.G. v. Gloucester County School Board on March 28. The case is being brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a Virginia transgender boy named Gavin Grimm. Grimm is challenging a policy in his local school district that singles out transgender students for discrimination and prohibits him from using the boys’ restroom at his school. The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Gavin last year. It is the first-ever case on transgender rights to go before the Supreme Court.
Freedom Massachusetts is the bipartisan campaign working to ensure all people are treated fairly and equally under the law.