WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer told reporters on Wednesday that the issue of restroom use by “transgender” students is not a priority for the administration, although it is expected to release new guidelines on the matter at some point today, possibly sending the matter back to the states.
“The issue of transgender bathrooms wasn’t one we heard a lot about from the president during the campaign. He said at one point [that] Caitlyn Jenner could use whichever bathroom she wanted to at Trump Tower. So why is this now a priority for the administration 40 days into office?” NBC reporter Hallie Jackson asked Spicer during the daily press briefing.
“It’s not a priority,” he replied, explaining that the matter is only being dealt with at this point in time because there is a case regarding the issue before the U.S. Supreme Court.
“There is a case pending in the Supreme Court in which we have to decide whether or not to continue to issue guidance to the Court. It’s dictated by that,” Spicer outlined. “We now have to decide whether or not this administration wants to continue that track that they were on. It’s plain and simple.”
“If we don’t—but there are problems both in the legal and process way in which that guidance was issued,” he continued. “And so it’s incumbent upon us to actually follow the law and to recognize that Title IX never talked about this. It was enacted in 1972. There was no discussion of this back then, and to assume certain elements of the law were thought of back then with respect to this would be completely preposterous.”
As previously reported, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral argument next month regarding a Virginia school board’s appeal of a ruling siding with the Obama administration’s demand that it allow a female student who identifies as male to use the boys’ restroom.
The Obama administration had also issued directives last year that warned that “[a]s a condition of receiving federal funds, a school agrees that it will not exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat differently on the basis of sex any person in its educational programs or activities unless expressly authorized to do so under Title IX or its implementing regulations.” The matter resulted in a legal challenge from over a dozen states.
Spicer said that because of the case before the Supreme Court and matters involving the previous directives, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Justice have been going over the Obama administration’s 2016 memo and will issue new guidelines on the matter.
“They’ve been reviewing the guidance that was signed, the basis by which it was put through. And I think there have been several areas of concern, both legal and procedural, that they have been discussing,” he explained.
Spicer noted that President Trump believes the issue should be left up to the states.
“I’ve made this clear and the president’s made it clear throughout the campaign that he is a firm believer in states’ rights and that certain issues like this are not best dealt with at the federal level,” he said.
“The president has maintained for a long time that this is a state’s right issue and not one for the federal government,” Spicer had likewise remarked on Tuesday when asked about the matter. “So while there will be further guidance coming out this, I think that all you need to do is look at what the president’s view has been for a long time—that this is not something that the federal government should be involved in; this is a states’ rights issue.”
As previously reported, earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice withdrew the previous administration’s request for a stay of an injunction against the Obama-era restroom policy in a lawsuit involving 13 states that had sued over the matter.