Transgender advocacy groups are parsing written testimony sent to lawmakers on Capitol Hill by Kenneth Marcus, President Donald Trump’s pick to head the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights.
During his public testimony before the Senate Education Committee last month, Marcus skirted questions about whether schools should provide accommodations for transgender students. In written questions submitted after the hearing, Democrats tried to pin down the nominee’s beliefs.
“Title IX prohibits discrimination based on sex,” Marcus wrote. “The question as to whether Title IX provides additional protections to transgender students beyond those described above, and the nature and scope of such protections, is currently being litigated.”
Under the Obama administration, the Office of Civil Rights pushed the redefinition of “sex” in Title IX to include gender identity. The Trump administration rescinded that guidance, and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has said local districts should be allowed to adopt transgender policies that work best for their communities. Students across the country are suing schools that don’t allow them to use the restrooms of their choice, and analysts expect the Supreme Court will eventually settle the question.
In his responses to Democrats’ questions, Marcus said the federal government still has a role to play: “Title IX prohibitions on sex discrimination, including harassment based on sex stereotyping, continue to protect all students, including transgender students.”
That’s not good enough for transgender activists, who say they don’t expect Marcus to make protecting LGBTQ students a priority. The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, the National Women’s Law Center, UnidosUS, the National Urban League, and the Dignity in Schools Campaign have all urged lawmakers to reject Marcus’ nomination. —L.J.