The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is applauding a move by the Trump administration to repeal the “deeply disturbing” directive of May 16, 2016 in which the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Education recommended that school bathrooms be open to students according to their perceived rather than their biological gender.
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap., of Philadelphia, chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth, and Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., of Youngstown, Ohio, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education, together issued the following statement:
“We are grateful that the Trump Administration has withdrawn the guidance which had indicated that public pre-K through 12 schools, as well as all colleges and universities, should treat “a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex.” The Dear Colleague Letter sought to impose a one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with sensitive issues involving individual students. Such issues are best handled with care and compassion at the local level, respecting the privacy and safety concerns of all students.”
They go on to explain Church teaching that “biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distinguished but not separated” (Amoris Laetitia, no. 56).
“The Catholic Church consistently affirms the inherent dignity of each and every human person and advocates for the wellbeing of all people, particularly the most vulnerable,” the statement reads. “Children, youth, and parents in these difficult situations deserve compassion, sensitivity, and respect.”
However, “all of these can be expressed without infringing on legitimate concerns about privacy and security on the part of all young students and parents.”
The new directive from the Trump administration cites the chaos that ensued after the clumsy rollout of the July 2016 directive by the Obama Administration which “did not contain extensive legal analysis or explain how the position is consistent with the express language of Title IX, nor did they undergo any formal public process.”
The Obama administration was asserting that Title IX prohibitions on sex discrimination can be expanded to include those who identify with a gender other than their biological gender. The validity of this argument is still being tested in the courts.
The Trump administration is offering no new guidance at this time, but is simply withdrawing the Obama administration policy and calling for “due regard” for the role of states and local school districts in shaping education policy in schools.
The letter also makes clear that the “withdrawal of these guidance documents does not leave students without protections from discrimination, bullying, or harassment.”
“As President Trump has clearly stated, he believes policy regarding transgender bathrooms should be decided at the state level,” the White House said in a Feb. 22 statement. “The joint decision made today by the Department of Justice and the Department of Education returning power to the states paves the way for an open and inclusive process to take place at the local level with input from parents, students, teachers and administrators.”
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