Two members of Trump’s cabinet reportedly sparred over bathroom protections for transgender students

President-elect Donald Trump looks on as Betsy DeVos, his nominee for Secretary of Education, speaks at the DeltaPlex Arena, December 9, 2016 in Grand Rapids, Michigan. President-elect Donald Trump is continuing his victory tour across the country.
Betsy DeVos, pictured, reportedly disagreed with an order surrounding transgender student rights. Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images

The Trump Administration is expected to unveil guidance rolling back protections for transgender students this week.

But behind the scenes, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions privately sparred over the order, The New York Times reported.

The order would reverse guidance from the Obama Administration directing schools to allow transgender students the right to use the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity.

DeVos told Trump she was uncomfortable signing the order, three Republicans with direct knowledge of the internal discussions told the Times.

Sessions pushed DeVos to reverse her stance and agree to the order. He is reliant on her support as the order must come from the Department of Education and Justice Department.

During the highly contentious Senate confirmation process for DeVos, there were questions over whether she would protect LGBT students in her role. Critics cited her family’s donations to organisations which oppose gay rights. Still, colleagues of DeVos have portrayed her as someone supportive of LGBT rights.

Sessions’ ideas surrounding LGBT rights are less nuanced. He has voted against such expanding rights throughout his career in the Senate.

A draft of the order obtained by the Times cited confusion over the guidance set forth by the Obama Administration. School administrators, parents, and students have “struggled to understand and apply the statements of policy and guidance,” the draft read, according to the Times.

The forthcoming order will have rippling impact across the nation for school systems attempting to update bathroom policies.

The most high-profile case relates to high-school student Gavin Grimm. Grimm is a transgender student who sued his high school in federal court for refusing to allow him to use the boys’ bathroom, which corresponds to his gender identity.

In 2016, The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit ruled in Grimm’s favour, pointing to the Obama Administration guidance. The Gloucester County School Board appealed the decision and the case is now set to be heard by the Supreme Court in March.

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