Jeff Sessions’ DOJ is already working to roll back protections for transgender kids

On Sessions’ first day, the DOJ signaled that it’s reversing course on Obama-era guidelines protecting kids at school.

President Donald Trump listens as Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, after Vice President Mike Pence administered the oath of office to Sessions on Thursday. CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
President Donald Trump listens as Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, after Vice President Mike Pence administered the oath of office to Sessions on Thursday. CREDIT: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The Trump administration has elected not to contest a Texas federal judge’s injunction barring the federal government from implementing Obama administration guidelines that protect transgender kids in schools.

Oral arguments for the Obama Justice Department’s appeal of the judge’s decision were scheduled for Tuesday. The DOJ cancelled them in a legal brief submitted Friday.

“Defendants-appellants hereby withdraw their pending November 23, 2016 motion for partial stay pending appeal,” the brief says. “The parties jointly move to remove from the Court’s calendar the February 14, 2017 oral argument currently scheduled for that motion. The parties are currently considering how best to proceed.”

That brief was filed the day after Jeff Sessions was sworn in as Attorney General.

As ThinkProgress reported last August, the Obama administration’s guidance “stated that Title IX’s nondiscrimination protections on the basis of ‘sex’ protect transgender students in accordance with their gender identity, such that they must be allowed to use the bathrooms and play on sports teams that match their gender.” But the brief filed Friday signals that the Trump administration no longer wants to implement that guidance.

Trump and Vice President Mike Pence said they would do this before the election. During an interview with a Christian publication in October, Pence said the Trump administration would rescind the Obama administration’s guidance protecting transgender students from discrimination.

As we wrote at the time, Pence explained that he and Trump believe “concerns about which bathrooms transgender students should use can be ‘resolved’ at the local level.” He also raised nebulous concerns about how children’s “safety” and “privacy” should be priorities in those decisions.

“Washington has no business intruding on the operation of our local schools,” Pence said.

Despite promising during the campaign that he’d be “much better for the gays” than Hillary Clinton, Trump offered the LGBT community little more than Islamophobia while taking just about every anti-LGBT position possible.

During his confirmation hearing last month, Sessions dodged questions about his own anti-LGBT record, but said, “We should recognize religious freedom. It will be a very high priority of mine.” Social conservative often use “religious freedom” arguments as a pretext to discriminate against LGBT people.