In summary

President Trump’s action to rescind Obama-era protections for transgender school children drew quick rebuke from California lawmakers, but the dispute at this point is more symbolic than substantive.

President Trump’s action to rescind Obama-era protections for transgender school children drew quick rebuke from California lawmakers, but the dispute at this point is more symbolic than substantive.

In a Feb. 22 letter, Trump administration officials rejected legal guidance issued by Obama’s administration that said schools must let students use the bathroom facilities that match their gender identity, even if it differs from their biological sex. The directive from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Education Secretary Betsy DeVos sparked protest from supporters of LGBT rights, including many Democrats in the California Legislature.

But it’s important to realize that this letter does not change reality in California schools. Two reasons why: First, the Obama guidelines were already under a nationwide court injunction, so they weren’t even in affect when the Trump administration moved to overturn them.

Second, state statutes already on the books here protect transgender students. A California law passed in 2013 requires schools to allow students to use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond to their gender identity, even if it’s different from the sex listed on their school records. The Trump administration letter doesn’t change a word in this law.

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Laurel covers California politics for CalMatters, with a focus on power and personalities in the statehouse. Her stories explain political dynamics in the Capitol and examine how money, advocacy and relationships...