Schools Overpower Government: Executive order revoked, lifts bathroom guidelines


Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (right) speaks out during a press conference regarding how schools should deal with student bathroom concerns. Photo Credit: Associated Press

Written by Hammad Arain and Gabriel Chamon

The Trump Administration recently overturned an executive order passed by former President Barack Obama, which threatened to cut funding to any schools that denied transgender students the privilege of using whichever bathroom they identify with. This is a good decision, since the executive order was both unreasonable and unconstitutional.

The Department of Education and Department of Justice sent a letter ordering schools around the nation to withdraw the federal protections to transgender students under Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. The act forbids discrimination by gender for institutions taking governmental funds.

A report from USA Today on February 17, 2016, described an unidentified male in Seattle, Washington entering the girl’s locker room at a public pool to undress. The man claimed that he had the right to be there because he identified as a woman, which referred to a Washington ruling that mandated all schools, parks, and businesses to allow people into public restrooms based on the gender that they identify with. This shows that the executive order passed by the Obama Administration did not cover all possible circumstances when it comes to securing privacy, as it used to allow men and women to fake being transgender only to violate the privacy of members of the opposite gender.

Additionally, the executive order from the Obama Administration is simply unconstitutional, as the Tenth Amendment of the U.S. Bill of Rights states: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” This means that the federal government does not have the jurisdiction to cut funding to schools that prohibit transgenders from using the bathroom of their choice. As a result, the overturning of the executive order was inevitable.

The federal government should not mandate over all schools, but instead, continue protecting certain federal laws such as the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.

During his campaign, Donald Trump split from Republican tradition by promising to protect LGBT Americans from violence and oppression. Shortly after taking office, Trump stated that he would continue reinforcing an executive order that the Obama administration issued to protect LGBT Americans from workplace discrimination.

“The President is proud to have been the first ever GOP nominee to mention the LGBT community in his nomination acceptance speech, pledging then to protect the community from violence and oppression,” the White House Press Office said in an announcement on January 30.

According to a research report conducted by Gary Gates, a research director and American demographer, approximately 0.3% of adults in the United States identify as transgender. It is unreasonable for the federal government to force all public schools to follow a rule over the considerations of the student body.

Using the bathroom is an essential part of attending any school. The National Center for Transgender Equality conducted one of the largest surveys in 2015 on 27,715 people and found that 54% of those who were perceived as transgender in pre-college schools were verbally harassed and 37% were assaulted or physically attacked. Some schools have policies for segregation based on gender (such as private, parochial and some public schools) while some don’t, which is simply why an executive order cannot directly solve the problem.

Many local school districts have already developed their policies regarding the use of bathrooms on campus so that individual schools can be free to let transgender students use the bathroom that they are most comfortable with. “We trust that our children won’t be forced into emotionally vulnerable situations when they are in the care of our schools because it’s a school’s duty to protect and respect the bodily privacy and dignity of all students,” said Randall Wenger, the chief counsel of the Independence Law Center.

There is a simple solution to the whole transgender bathroom dilemma: listen to the constitution. The resolution should be left to the local school board administrators, not the federal government. When school officials can anticipate and listen to student concerns, they are successfully able to respond to a majority of student cases, compared to just obeying a ruling. There should be no federal law in favor or in opposition of transgenders being able to use the restroom of the gender they identify with.