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The US departments of justice and education have withdrawn guidance on transgender rights that had been issued by the Obama administration allowing students to use the restroom that matched their chosen gender identity.

A letter to US schools issued by the Department of Justice and Department of Education on Wednesday evening in the US withdraws and rescinds positions taken in two Obama-era guidance documents, which had recommended access to sex-segregated facilities based on gender identity, “in order to further and more completely consider the legal issues involved.”

The new statement asserts that the two documents issued by the Obama administration – which were not legally binding – do not contain extensive legal analysis or explanation of how their position is consistent with existing legistlation, “nor did they undergo any formal public process.”

In addition to citing court cases as evidence of legal confusion over the guidance documents, the departments say they “believe that, in this context, there must be due regard for the primary role of the States and local school districts in establishing educational policy.”

In a separate statement, attorney general Jeff Sessions laid out a similar argument to that of the joint statement and further asserted that the justice department “remains committed to the proper interpretation and enforcement of [existing legislation] and to its protections for all students, including LGBTQ students, from discrimination, bullying, and harassment.”

In a tweet published after news of the new statement broke, secretary of education Betsy DeVos said: “I consider protecting all students, including #LGBTQ students, not only a key priority for the Department, but for every school in America.”

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