Attorney General reaffirms advice to local schools regarding transgender policy

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West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey sent a letter to state and county education officials reaffirming his guidance in the wake of President Trump’s announcement.

The letter cites President Trump’s directive that withdrew and rescinded Obama-era guidance, which threatened federal retribution against local school districts that refused to admit students to the bathrooms, locker rooms, dormitories and athletic teams of their choice.

“I have been and remain committed to defending our schools’ authority over their own policies,” Morrisey wrote. “The Trump letter removes any threat of federal government action against States and schools that choose to maintain their lawful policy preference of declining to admit students to sex-segregated facilities on the basis of their professed gender identity.”

The letter, addressed Friday, Feb. 24, to the state’s superintendent of schools, department of education and county boards of education, explained President Trump’s directive reaffirmed the primary role of states and local school districts in setting educational policy, and underscored that responsibility includes ensuring all LGBT students “are able to learn and thrive in a safe environment.”

It marked the attorney general’s third, statewide correspondence with educational leaders. Previous letters stressed the Obama guidance carried no force of law and that his office would fight any use of the Obama policy to eliminate funding to local schools.

The previous letters and briefs in two related lawsuits have argued the Obama guidance sought to unilaterally and unlawfully change the word “sex” in several federal laws from that based on biology, which has existed for decades, to include a person’s self-professed gender identity.