The White House hinted Tuesday that it could overturn protections for transgender students that required public schools to allow youths to use bathrooms and locker rooms matching the gender with which they identify.
But more than a dozen Republican-controlled states, bitterly opposed to the federal guidelines issued under president Barack Obama, are challenging the US government in court.
Some conservatives see the directive from Washington as improper interference in local school affairs and an abuse of executive power.
On Tuesday, White House spokesman Sean Spicer, asked about Trump’s position, said the issue concerned state rights, not the federal government.
“This is not something that the federal government should be involved in. This is a state’s rights issue,” he stressed.
The Supreme Court case, set to be heard next month, involves 17-year-old Gavin Grimm, who was born a female but identifies as a male. He filed suit to be allowed to use the boys’ bathroom at his high school in Gloucester County, Virginia.
One of the highest-profile cases this session, it is likely to be heard by the conservative Neil Gorsuch — President Donald Trump’s pick for a vacancy on the Supreme Court — if he is confirmed.
Should the case be heard before Gorsuch or another ninth and final justice is installed, the court could deadlock, as it is currently evenly divided between four conservative and four liberal-leaning justices.
A tie would keep the lower court ruling intact and set no new legal precedent.
Many opponents of the Obama administration’s position — who point to both their religious values and questions of security and privacy — rally behind the slogan “No men in women’s bathrooms.”