Transgender students have lost the US government protection that allowed them to use school toilets and locker rooms matching their gender identities.
It’s after Donald Trump’s administration came down on the side of states’ rights, and lifted the Barack Obama-era national guidelines.
Here’s everything you need to know.
What does this mean for transgender kids?
Without the Obama directive, it will be up to states and school districts to interpret anti-discrimination law and determine whether students should have access to toilets in accordance with their expressed gender identity and not just their biological sex.
The reversal is a setback for transgender rights groups, which had been urging Trump to keep the guidelines in place.
What was the Obama directive exactly?
The Obama administration’s guidance was based on its determination that Title IX, the federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education, also applies to gender identity.
But the guidance did not sufficiently explain its interpretation of that law, attorney general Jeff Sessions said in a statement.
What has the Government said regarding the decision?
Education secretary Betsy DeVos said: “This is an issue best solved at the state and local level.
“Schools, communities and families can find, and in many cases have found, solutions that protect all students.”
In a letter to the nation’s schools, the justice and education departments said the earlier guidance “has given rise to significant litigation regarding school restrooms and locker rooms”.
The agencies withdrew the guidance “in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved”.
White House spokesman Sean Spicer denied media reports that DeVos, who has been criticised for her stance on LGBT issues, had opposed the change but was overruled by Sessions.
Any disagreement was merely over wording and timing, Spicer said.
What happens now?
Legal experts said the change in position could impact pending court cases involving the federal sex discrimination law, including a case to be heard by the Supreme Court in March involving Gavin Grimm, a transgender teenager who was denied bathroom access in Virginia.
The justices could decide not to hear the case and direct lower courts to decide that issue.
Grimm said of the Trump action: “It’s not positive. It has the possibility of hurting transgender students and transgender people.
“We’re going to keep fighting like we have been and keep fighting for the right thing.”
How have people reacted?
— ACLU (@ACLU) February 22, 2017
Advocates say federal law will still ban discrimination against students based on their gender or sexual orientation, but lifting the Obama directive still puts children in harm’s way.
“Reversing this guidance tells trans kids that it’s OK with the Trump administration and the Department of Education for them to be abused and harassed at school for being trans,” said American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten.
The Internet is standing up for transgender students, with many using the hashtag #ProtectTransKids.
No one should live in fear for being themselves. You are valid and no one can take that from you. #ProtectTransKids— Lucas Dell 💦 (@lucasdell) February 23, 2017
— trevør (@jonestm97) February 23, 2017
You are loved and cared for. You are beautifully magnificent just as you are. Don't let ANYONE tell you different. #ProtectTransKids ❤️— Kayce (@KayceBrewer) February 23, 2017
everyone is important & we all deserve the world ❤#ProtectTransKids— madeline jean :) (@ayexmadeline) February 23, 2017
Don't give up. You matter. I (and a whole lot of other people) stand with you. #protecttranskids— corey fogelmanis (@coreyfogelmanis) February 23, 2017
And what about people who support Trump’s decision?
Conservatives hailed the change, saying the Obama directives were illegal and violated the rights of fixed-gender students, especially girls who did not feel safe changing clothes or using toilets next to anatomical males.
“Our daughters should never be forced to share private, intimate spaces with male classmates, even if those young men are struggling with these issues,” said Vicki Wilson, a member of Students and Parents for Privacy.
“It violates their right to privacy and harms their dignity.”