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14 February 2017, 12:45 | Leonard Manning
Sen. Jeff Sessions Donald Trump's selection for Attorney General. Associated Press
The Justice Department on Friday signaled it stopped fighting to overturn a national injunction blocking the federal government from giving guidance to schools and transgender students, another sign President Donald Trump's administration is taking a different approach than former President Barack Obama's.
On Friday night, Justice Department attorneys handling a lawsuit over President Barack Obama's efforts to protect transgender individuals dropped an effort to temporarily rein in a nationwide injunction a Texas federal judge imposed previous year. The directive the Department of Education issued in May interpreted Title IX, the federal law that bans sex discrimination in schools, to protect transgender students.
In August, U.S. District Judge Reed O'Connor blocked the trans-affirming education guidelines issued by the departments of Education and Justice last May. In its withdraw of the challenge, the Justice Department filed a brief with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, stating "the parties are now considering how best to proceed in this appeal". In a filling done Friday, the Justice Department withdrew its request to limit an injunction halting the enforcement of existing civil rights laws in providing protections for transgender students. The brief asked the court to cancel arguments, explaining that "the parties are now considering how best to proceed in this appeal".
The move by the Justice Department does not immediately change the situation for the nation's public schools, as a federal judge had already put a temporary hold on the guidance as a lawsuit by a dozen states moved through the courts.
"Transgender students are entitled to the full protection of the United States Constitution and our federal nondiscrimination laws", said a statement from the group's president, Chad Griffin. The Obama administration then requested the block only apply to the 13 states that filed a lawsuit.
Although it remains unclear as to what will happen next in the legal process, this move by the Trump administration is worrying many LGBTQ activists and human rights groups. The legal brief could be the Trump administration's first step in complying with that campaign promise.
The decision could have an impact on Gavin Grimm v. Gloucester County School Board, an important case up before the U.S. Supreme Court. Oral arguments had been scheduled for February 14 and no new date was requested or proposed in the joint request filed Friday.
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