Culture

The Obama Administration Orders Public Schools To Let Trans Students Use Their Bathroom Of Choice

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A wave of anti-LGBT bathroom bills is still sweeping the country with organized fervor, and much of the controversy has gone down in North Carolina. Gov. Pat McCrory sued the pants off the federal government after the feds laid down a compliance deadline and a declaration that the state’s “bathroom bill,” HB2, violates portions of the Civil Rights Act. The state was promptly greeted with a dueling lawsuit from the feds and strong words from Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch. Neither side will budge.

Several other states have similar bills with school restrooms becoming a key area of concern. Folks who fret over people using their preferred restroom appear to be very disturbed at the thought of trans students needing to pee. A court recently stepped in to declare a Virginia school’s transgender bathroom guidelines as discriminatory, and the battle still rages. Meanwhile, such stereotypes persist without much thought about the transgender students and their rights.

Well, the Obama administration has had enough of these bathroom bans, and they’re putting an end to the bills’ possible effects in public schools. Friday will see the release of “a sweeping directive” that will require public schools to allow trans students to use the bathroom of their choice:

“No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus,” John B. King Jr., the secretary of the Department of Education, said in a statement. “We must ensure that our young people know that whoever they are or wherever they come from, they have the opportunity to get a great education in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and violence.”

“A school may not require transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity or to use individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so,” according to the letter.

One important thing to remember is that this letter doesn’t have the power of law but contains an implicit threat for schools to comply. If schools choose to defy the administration’s directive, they could lose federal aid or gain some lawsuits. The power of the purse could work a great effect, but then again, boycotts haven’t stopped all the state bathroom bills from proceeding.

In order for the directive to take effect, parents of trans students are responsible for communicating with the school about their children’s gender identity if it “differs from previous representations or records.” However, there’s no proof (medical or otherwise) of any sort required, just an assertion from parents. Again, the official letter arrives in school district mailboxes on Friday, so we’ll soon find out if any districts are game to ignore the directive.

(Via New York Times)

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