February 22, 2017
It’s been a rough month for Barack Obama. At his old office, President Trump is keeping the shredders busy with his predecessor’s radical policies and orders. Brick by brick, the White House is deconstructing the legacy of the Obama years — scrubbing everything from overseas abortion funding to dangerous immigration postures. Today, the Trump team may be adding a new guidance to the trash heap: Obama’s hugely controversial shower and bathroom order.
For nine months, parents, local districts, and states have been storming the courthouse doors to fight back on the decree, which insisted that every public school force students into the humiliating situation of sharing showers, restrooms, and locker rooms, with members of the opposite sex. Comply, the Department of Education implied, or lose your funding. To leaders like Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick (R), Obama’s financial blackmail was nothing new. If anything, it only made them more determined. As far as Patrick was concerned, this was easily the most important issue for families since the Supreme Court ruled against school prayer. “This will be the end of public education, if this prevails,” he warned. And most parents didn’t need convincing. Even Democrats joined the fierce pushback in local communities, all fighting an agenda that the American College of Pediatricians calls “child abuse.” Like us, they think Trump’s position is the right one.
In a rare show of muscle, 23 states banded together to fight the order — led by Texas. The White House’s agenda was so unpopular by November that some experts even blamed Hillary Clinton’s loss on her defense of it. Through it all, Donald Trump’s position was clear: “I believe it should be states’ rights, and I think the states should make the decision, they’re more capable of making the decision,” he told “Good Morning America“on May 13. When pressed, he repeated his stance. “I just think it should be states’ rights. I think many things actually should be states’ rights, but this is a perfect example of it,” he said.
This week, he plans on proving it. According to sources, the Departments of Justice and Education have already drafted a letter scrubbing the Obama order. White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about the development yesterday in a media scrum. “Will there be further guidance coming out on this? 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, this is a state’s rights issue.”
In the joint letter obtained by the Post, officials point out that President Obama tried to rewrite the 50-year-old Title IX regulations on sex discrimination. In verbal gymnastics that were impressive even for his administration, Obama tried to twist the rule to suggest that leaders in the 1970s were thinking about gender identity then too. “No one can seriously argue that this is what Congress had in mind when it wrote the law or when President Nixon signed it,” Scott Pruitt said at the time. “Even in today’s world of rapidly evolving norms, sex and gender identity are understood to be distinct.” The Trump administration agrees, writing in the letter that Obama’s “interpretation has given rise to significant litigation.” While people struggle to understand the policy, DOJ and DOE “have decided to withdraw and rescind the above-referenced guidance documents in order to further consider the legal issues involved.” But, the administration reminds districts, this doesn’t “diminish the protections from bullying and harassment that are available to all students. Schools must ensure that transgender students, like all students, are able to learn in a safe environment.”
During a press conference this afternoon, a reporter pressed Spicer on why the administration was making this a priority. “It’s not a priority,” Spicer fired back. “There is a case pending in the Supreme Court in which we have to decide whether or not to continue to issue guidance to the court. It’s dictated by that. The Obama administration issued a joint guidance. We now have to decide whether or not this administration wants to continue that track that they were on. It’s plain and simple.” He’s right! This wasn’t Trump’s idea. It was forced on every parent and student in America by Barack Obama. We all agree this isn’t a priority. But why didn’t members of the press raise this issue when the Obama administration spent excessive time and money strong-arming the nation with this agenda? I applaud the White House for getting the federal government out of the showers and bathrooms of America’s schools.
Tony Perkins’ Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.