By Kyle J. Somers | Esquire
On February 22, 2017, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice issued a “Dear Colleague” letter to the leaders of the nation’s school systems rescinding prior guidance, issued under President Obama, regarding the rights of transgender students.
Although the letter suggests that the federal government intends to allow states and local school districts to establish their own individual policies regarding transgender students, it also states that they intend to “more completely consider the legal issues involved.” That consideration will likely involve keeping a close eye on the forthcoming decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in G.G. v. Gloucester County Sch. Bd., a case that involves a school district’s adoption of a policy prohibiting students from using the restroom that corresponds to their gender identity, as well as other similar cases throughout the country.
While the issuance of the “Dear Colleague” letter may be viewed by opponents of the prior guidance as a victory, school leaders should be aware that the issue is in no way settled. This hotly-contested topic will almost certainly continue to be litigated and, in the absence of new legislation, it will only be through future court decisions that we’ll develop a clearer understanding as to the legal rights of transgender students.