The Trump administration will rescind guidance enacted by his predecessor in favour of transgender students, the White House has said.
The Obama-era rule directed public schools to allow transgender pupils to use toilets of their gender identity.
But critics said that guidance was government overreach which threatened other students’ privacy and safety.
Last May, Mr Obama’s justice and education departments instructed public schools to allow transgender students to use whichever bathroom corresponded to their gender identity.
Though not legally binding, Mr Obama’s order warned schools they could lose funding if they did not follow the new guidance.
The directive sparked a backlash across the country, prompting legal challenges from 13 states and a Texas federal judge’s preliminary injunction blocking the department’s position in August.
The Obama administration’s guidance was based on its interpretation of Title IX, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in education.
Mr Obama argued that protection extended to gender identity.
But Mr Spicer said the previous administration’s guidelines were confusing and too difficult to implement.
During his presidential campaign, Mr Trump said transgender students should be allowed to use whichever bathroom “they feel is appropriate”.
But he reversed his stance after facing Republican criticism.
Conservative activists praised Mr Trump’s impending order, saying it protected student rights to privacy.
“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.”
A fight over an order that would rescind protections for transgender students in public schools has erupted inside the Trump administration, pitting Attorney General Jeff Sessions against the secretary of education, Betsy DeVos.
Ms. DeVos initially resisted signing off on the order and told President Trump that she was uncomfortable with it, according to three Republicans with direct knowledge of the internal discussions. The draft order would reverse the directives put in place last year by the Obama administration to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choice.
Mr. Sessions, who strongly opposes expanding gay, lesbian and transgender rights, fought Ms. DeVos on the issue and pressed her to relent because he could not go forward without her consent. The order must come from the Justice and Education Departments.
Mr. Trump sided with his attorney general, these Republicans said, telling Ms. DeVos in a meeting in the Oval Office on Tuesday that he wanted her to drop her objections. And Ms. DeVos, faced with the choice of resigning or defying the president, has agreed to go along. The Justice Department declined to comment on Wednesday.
Assuming this reporting is true, I am pleased that the president sided with AG Sessions. Though he is broadly pro-LGBT, Trump surely knows that ordering public schools to let transgenders into the bathrooms and locker rooms is not the place to take a stand. Still, it is fascinating — and important — that Betsy DeVos threw down with Jeff Sessions over this stuff. It shows that even within the broad community of conservative Evangelicals, there is no unanimity on this issue. Think about it: the fact that allowing boys who believe they are girls into a high school locker room is even an issue between conservative Evangelical Christians is a sign of the times.
Yes, it is a sign of the times, isn’t it… Evanjellyfish can’t all be counted on to stand firm; apparently not even Trump appointee DeVos! (Let alone #NeverTrump twits like Russell Moore…) But thank God some evangelicals, like Trump appointee Sessions, do…