Fight erupts in Trump administration over transgender students' rights

A debate over a draft order that would reverse protections for transgender students is spurring a fight within the Trump administration.

The order would reverse an Obama-era guidance requiring public schools to let students use bathrooms that match their gender identity.

The New York Times reported that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits McCabe wins back full FBI pension after being fired under Trump Overnight Hillicon Valley — Apple issues security update against spyware vulnerability MORE were at odds over the issue.

DeVos originally said she felt uncomfortable with the order, The Times reported, according to three Republicans with knowledge of the internal discussions.


But Sessions urged DeVos to support the order, which needs to come from both the Justice and Education departments.

President Trump ultimately supported the position of Sessions and DeVos then agreed to go along with the order, according to The Times.

DeVos and Sessions are reportedly still finalizing the language for the letter.

“School administrators, parents and students have expressed varying views on the legal issues arising in this setting,” a draft of the order obtained by The Times says. 

“They have also struggled to understand and apply the statements of policy and guidance” in the Obama orders.

The draft letter also says schools "must ensure that transgender students, like all students, are able to learn in a safe environment."

The Obama administration last year issued a guidance to all public school districts in the U.S. instructing them to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity. The letter was signed by officials at the Justice Department and the Department of Education.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer was asked about the issue Tuesday during the press briefing and said the president has "maintained for a long time that this is a states’ rights issue and not one for the federal government."

"So while we have 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, that this is a states’ rights issue."