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Transgender student ruling doesn’t affect Oregon schools

The Trump administration revoked federal guidelines Wednesday that protected transgender students’ choice of bathrooms, but the ruling is not expected to have an immediate effect in Oregon.

In 2016, the Obama administration issued guidelines that said transgender students should be allowed to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity rather than gender at birth. The rules, based on the sex discrimination protections in Title IX, were immediately challenged in court and put on hold.

The Trump administration said those rules lacked proper legal analysis, and the Department of Education and Department of Justice withdrew them. President Donald Trump has said it should be up to states to decide how to treat transgender students.

The federal status of transgender students could still be decided in court. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a Virginia case involving a transgender teenager denied access to the boys’ bathroom at the high school, but the defense was based on the Obama administration guidelines.

“Regardless of what the courts decide on the breadth of Title IX, Oregon law (ORS 659.850 and ORS 174.100) prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, and gender identity is included within sexual orientation,” said Spencer Lewis, OSBA member services attorney. “Oregon schools are prohibited from discriminating against transgender students and staff.”

PACE will offer training in transgender issues March 6-9 in eastern Oregon. To learn more, go to the PACE website

Oregon is among 15 states that have protections for transgender students, according to the Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights group. The Oregon Department of Education told schools in May that transgender students should be allowed to use the bathrooms, names and pronouns they want and play on the sports teams that align with their gender identity.

The Oregon Department of Education said it would be reviewing its guidance in light of any communications from the U.S. Department of Education but it stands firm on the rights of transgender students, said Government and Legal Affairs Manager Cindy Hunt.

“The Oregon Department of Education remains committed to ensuring that all students are provided an education regardless of their transgender status, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, disability or other protected class,” she said. “We expect school districts to provide an educational environment that is safe and free from discrimination, harassment and bullying.”

- Jake Arnold, OSBA
jarnold@osba.org