In a complete reversal of the Obama administration's position, President Donald Trump's administration formally rescinded past guidance on transgender bathroom protections in public schools.Letters from the Justice and Education departments late Wednesday notified the Supreme Court and the nation's public schools that the administration is changing its position on the issue.Former President Barack Obama instructed public schools that they must allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that align with a child's chosen gender identity. The guidance was issued as an interpretation of Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in education.Now, the administration is revoking key guidance on which that policy was based.
One of the 2016 campaign's strangest strategies unfolded in the wake of the Orlando nightclub massacre, when Donald Trump and his allies insisted that LGBT voters, en masse, should move to the right and vote Republican.The pitch was always a little convoluted, but as Trump saw it, a religious fanatic attacked an LGBT club; he'd target such extremists as president; so LGBT voters should like Trump. At one point, the Republican went so far as to say he, not Hillary Clinton, would be the "better friend" of the "LBGT" [sic] community because of his anti-immigration and anti-Muslim agenda. Just two days after the Orlando mass-shooting, Trump added, "Thank you to the LGBT community! I will fight for you while Hillary brings in more people that will threaten your freedoms and beliefs."Some of his loyalists even believed it. Anthony Scaramucci, a Trump advisor and surrogate, declared earlier this month that Trump "is most pro-LGBTQ rights [president] in history. Why's that story not written in mainstream media?"Probably because it's not true.
It fell to Sen. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) to explain, "President Trump seems to think #LGBT stands for Let's Go Back in Time. He's wrong."The New York Times report on the White House's latest actions pointed to yesterday's announcement as an example of the president "bowing to pressure from the religious right and contradicting his own personal views."I imagine this will soon become the conventional wisdom: Trump isn't actually a culture warrior, and he isn't personally interested in going after LGBT kids just a month into his presidency, but he's beholden to far-right social conservatives and he's too weak to reject their demands.As a practical matter, this is hollow spin. I have no idea what Trump truly believes about the culture war, and ultimately, it doesn't much matter. What the president does is vastly more important than what he thinks.