Civil Rights Commission Launches Investigation Into Ed. Dept., Other Agencies

The United States Commission on Civil Rights listed seven entities for their concern, including the Department of Education, Department of Justice, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

The Department of Education did not return a request for comment by NBC News. That move sparked criticism from LGBTQ rights groups, who argued that rescinding the guidance would leave students at risk of harassment, bullying, and discrimination.

Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is a coalition charged by its diverse membership of more than 200 national organizations to promote and protect the rights of all persons in the United States.

"It is permissible, for example, for one allegation in a complaint (such as harassment based on gender stereotypes) to go forward while another allegation (such as denial of access to restrooms based on gender identity) is dismissed", the guidance continues.

The directive, the Post noted, "makes clear that lawyers may decide to dismiss complaints related to the polarizing issue of transgender students' access to school bathrooms".

After the Department of Education and the Department of Justice rescinded Obama administration guidance regarding transgender students in February, the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has received new guidance on how to deal with cases of discrimination against transgender students.

While working under Obama, Lhamon helped write guidance explaining to schools that Title IX, a federal law that prohibits sex discrimination, protects students' right to use bathrooms matching their gender identity. "It is saying proceed in accordance with the law, and the law is moving in the right direction", Bhargava said. Education officials said they wanted to emphasize that transgender students may still have valid discrimination complaints despite the rescission of that guidance. For Title IX, a series of courts have determined the law assures transgender students have access to the school restrooms consistent with their gender identity.

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However, Vanita Gupta, the former acting head of the DOJ's civil rights division under Obama, said, "At best, this administration believes that civil rights enforcement is superfluous and can be easily cut".

In a statement, the commission expressed concerns that the Trump administration's proposed budget cuts to civil rights offices across the federal governments "would result in a unsafe reduction of civil rights enforcement across the country, leaving communities of color, LGBT people, older people, people with disabilities, and other marginalized groups exposed to greater risk of discrimination". "By undertaking a comprehensive investigation, the Commission, an independent, bipartisan agency, can play an important role in documenting and evaluating the federal government's commitment to enforcing the Constitution and federal civil rights laws".

The instructions, sent to Education Department employees, indicate the Office of Civil Rights "may assert subject matter jurisdiction" over a investigation if the administration deems a school isn't handling allegations of anti-trans discrimination adequately.

DeVos' press secretary, Elizabeth Hill said the rules are meant to speed up the resolution of complaints.

But a Department of Education spokesperson says under the Obama mandates, the time it took to close cases "skyrocketed" and the backlog of cases "exploded".

"President Trump and his Administration can claim to oppose discrimination all they want, but actions speak louder than words", Sen.

Some enforcement officers at the Office for Civil Rights, who have long complained about being overburdened, embraced the new flexibility. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said in a statement.

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