WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is working on a new set of directives on the use of school bathrooms by transgender students, the White House said Tuesday.

The announcement alarmed LGBT groups across the country that have urged President Donald Trump to safeguard Obama-era guidelines allowing students to use school restrooms that match their gender identity, not their assigned gender at birth.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer did not provide any details on the new guidelines that are being prepared by the Justice Department, but said Trump has long held that such matters should be left to the states, not the federal government, to decide.

“I think that all you have to do is look at what the president’s view has been for a long time, that this is not something the federal government should be involved in, this is a states’ rights issue,” Spicer said.

The Obama administration’s guidance, issued last May, held that transgender students can access restrooms and participate in school athletics according with the gender they identify with. Schools were also instructed to treat students in line with their expressed gender identity without requiring any medical proof.

While the move was hailed by rights organizations, it was attacked by conservative groups, which called it federal overreach and an infringement on the personal space and safety of all other students.

A patchwork of state laws and policies on the issue is emerging.

Fifteen states have explicit protections for transgender students, and many individual school districts in other states have adopted policies that recognize students on the basis of their gender identity, said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign. Just one state, North Carolina, has enacted a law restricting students’ bathroom access to their sex at birth. But so far this year, lawmakers in more than 10 states are considering similar legislation, according to the National Conference of State Legislators.

Vanita Gupta, who was head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division under President Barack Obama, blasted the Trump administration’s attempt to alter the guidelines.

“To cloak this in federalism ignores the vital and historic role that federal law plays in ensuring that all children, (including LGBT students) are able to attend school free from discrimination,” Gupta said in a statement.

The National Center for Transgender Equality said Tuesday that even without Obama’s guidelines, federal law – called Title IX – would still prohibit discrimination against students based on their gender or sexual orientation..

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