Eric Schneiderman for Attorney General

The Hill: “New York AG: Schools Have Duty to Protect Trans Students”

March 8, 2018

As published by The Hill, on February 28, 2018.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) on Wednesday reminded schools in his state of their duty to protect the rights of transgender students, while also blasting President Trump over policies that have drawn condemnation from LGBT advocates.

In a letter written alongside state education commissioner MaryEllen Elia, Schneiderman said state school officials have “the ongoing obligation … to protect [all students’] rights under state and federal law.”

His letter came not long after the Trump administration confirmed it will not investigate complaints from transgender students concerned they’re being prevented from using bathrooms corresponding with their gender identity. The department argued that the issue is not covered by Title IX anti-discrimination laws.

“Title IX prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, not gender identity,” Education Department spokeswoman Liz Hill told BuzzFeed News and other news outlets in a statement earlier this month.

However, she said that other complaints related to transgender discrimination may be investigated.

“In the case of bathrooms, longstanding regulations provide that separating facilities on the basis of sex is not a form of discrimination prohibited by Title IX,” Hill said in her statement, according to NBC News, adding that the agency will continue to “use current law and current regulation to determine if any child in school,” is being “harassed or discriminated against due to race, sex, or disability.”

In a separate statement accompanying his letter, Schneiderman took aim at the Trump administration.

“Over and over again, the Trump administration has made clear its disdain for the basic rights of transgender Americans,” Schneiderman said.

“Regardless of what happens in Washington, the law remains the law in New York — and school districts have independent duties to protect transgender students from discrimination and harassment when they go to school.”

The Education Department’s decision was condemned by LGBT advocacy groups including the Human Rights Campaign, which criticized Education Secretary Betsy DeVos in a statement.

“The department’s failure to act conflicts with the law in multiple jurisdictions, including federal circuits, and further emboldens those who seek to discriminate against transgender students. Once again, Secretary DeVos proves she is not interested in protecting transgender students and instead is choosing to advance the dangerous Trump-Pence anti-LGBTQ agenda.”