There is good news out of the new Administration in Washington, D.C., this time for the nation’s students and their parents.
The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice “Dear Colleague” guidance letter issued Wednesday revoked a controversial and misguided Obama-era education policy. That previous policy directed the nation’s schools, upon threat of the loss of federal funding, to allow boys who identify as girls, and vice versa, to use the restrooms, shower facilities and locker rooms of, and participate in programs designated for, the opposite sex, such as a women’s choir or track team.
Wednesday’s letter was a breath of fresh air. We need to love our neighbor. But loving our neighbor doesn’t mean we need to stop applying common sense to how have students use bathrooms, locker rooms, and shower areas.
We strongly believe, as the letter states, that “there must be due regard for the primary role of the States and local school districts in establishing educational policy.” Local control and accountability are the best ways for parents to have a say in how their children’s schools are run, and the best way to deal with controversial issues that may come up.
We also agree with the renewed pledge in yesterday’s letter to insure that all children be protected from bullying in school. But the previous federal policy was misguided in its intent and effect, and trampled on the valid rights and concerns of girls and boys and their parents over safety and privacy. This week’s reversal also restored sanity to the promise and guaranty of equal opportunities for girls in education by way of the federal law known as Title IX, before federal agencies began blurring the definition of the sexes and putting those guarantees in jeopardy.
The letter also represents a welcome repudiation of the false notion that federal agencies can amend the clear language of an Act of Congress like Title IX whenever a political opportunity presents itself. Respect for our Constitution and democratic process demands that we not take away the people’s right to legislate through their elected representatives, and give it to unaccountable bureaucracies.