It seems like the entire nation has been talking nonstop for weeks about the controversy surrounding new laws and regulations that either support equal bathroom access rights for transgender citizens or strips them away. Although some states have now outlawed trans access rights, new reports claim that President Barack Obama and his administration are planning to push for pro-trans bathroom rights for students on a federal level in the near future.
As previously reported, both North Carolina and Mississippi recently passed new bills that prohibit the states from enacting nondiscrimination ordinances designed to protect LGBT people. The bills also block transgender people from using bathrooms that match their personal gender identity.
According to media reports, the Obama administration plans to reaffirm its view that protections for transgender students are necessary and acceptable because they fall under Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex-based discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities.
The report claims that the administration’s proposed protections not only deal with bathroom and locker-room access, but also protect trans students from bullying, harassment and invasion of privacy.
However, the problem lies in the fact that the Justice Department is already battling North Carolina over the administration’s interpretation of Title IX and this could end up turning into major Supreme Court battle that will weigh upon the many conflicting interpretations in lower courts.
“It’s important to recognize that there’s a lagging legal framework in the face of rapidly changing social norms,” said National School Boards Association general counsel Francisco Negrón. “Our understanding of gender identity is changing, and the law hasn’t kept up.
“Certainly that’s the case here with Title IX. The lack of specificity about gender identity in the law creates all kinds of room for folks on both sides of this issue to make arguments about how the law should be taken.”
Although the Supreme Court may end up bypassing the issue, David Cohen, a law professor at Drexel University, claims that if more states end up passing anti-LGBT laws in the future, SCOTUS may treat this issue like they did same-sex marriage and take it upon themselves to defend the LGBT community’s rights.
“With same-sex marriage, it was such a pressing issue, with so many states doing different things,” Cohen said. “We’re not quite there yet, in terms of pressure on the Supreme Court with respect to transgender rights, but it’s very possible we could get there. For all I know, they could take notice of North Carolina’s law.”
Well, we’re interested to see how this plays out. And with the way the nation has steadily moved toward LGBT acceptance over the last few years, we expect trans rights to be pushed forward.