LGBT rights group sues for documents on federal transgender bathroom guidance


An LGBT rights groups is suing to force the Trump administration to turn over documents related to its decision to withdraw guidance that allowed transgender students to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.

In the complaint Lambda Legal filed in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on Wednesday, the group claimed the Education Department and the Department of Justice (DOJ) violated the Freedom of Information Act by withholding information the group requested more than five months ago. Lambda Legal requested documents about the agencies’ February decision to repeal guidance issued under former President Barack Obama to ensure schools follow Title IX anti-discrimination laws.

Among the documents requested was an unpublished opinion letter James Ferg-Cadima, acting deputy assistant secretary for policy at the Education Department’s Office for Civil Rights, wrote in January 2015.

{mosads}The group claims the letter reaffirms the agency’s position that Title IX’s prohibition on sex discrimination requires schools to treat transgender students consistent with their gender identity, including with respect to sex-segregated facilities.

DOJ and the Education Department under President Trump claimed the Obama administration had failed to explain how transgender protections are consistent with the express language of Title IX.

Lambda Legal argued in the court filing that the new administration’s decision created confusion for schools across the country and eliminated an important resource for ensuring that schools meet their Title IX obligations.

“An estimated 150,000 youth between ages 13 and 17 are transgender,” the group said in its 56-page complaint, citing research published in January.

“These transgender students, along with younger transgender children, experience alarming rates of harassment, bullying, and discrimination in their schools, which often goes unaddressed by school administrators. Many are denied access to sex-segregated facilities, such as school restrooms and locker rooms, in accordance with their gender identities.”

The Supreme Court during its last term tossed out a lower court ruling that allowed a transgender boy in Virginia to use the bathroom he chooses and reversed its decision to hear arguments in the case after the agencies rescinded the guidance.

The 4th Circuit Court of Appeals had relied on the initial Obama-era guidance in ruling in favor of the student.

Lambda Legal’s lawsuit comes as millions of students across the country head back to school.

“To every #trans kid going back to school this season: We love you. You are perfect. We are your lawyers. And we’ve got your back,” the group tweeted Wednesday morning.

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