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Feds to tell schools: Allow transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division listens at left as Attorney General Loretta Lynch speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington on Monday.

  • ASSOCIATED PRESS

    North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory speaks during a news conference in Raleigh, N.C. on Monday.

WASHINGTON » Wading further into a spreading national debate, the Obama administration will tell all public school districts across the nation Friday that they should allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity.

A letter signed by officials at the Justice and Education departments, to be sent Friday morning, tells the schools they should ensure that all students, including transgender students, can attend school in an environment free from discrimination based on sex, according to the letter obtained by McClatchy.

“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,” it says.

The letter does not mandate any actions. It is considered guidance, though schools that do not abide could face a loss of federal aid, according to federal officials.

“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,” Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said in a statement.

The letter does not mention North Carolina, which recently enacted a law overturning a city ordinance protecting LGBT rights. The Justice Department is suing the state, calling that law a violation of civil rights. In the Friday action, federal officials say they are responding to numerous questions from educators, including from the National Association of Secondary School Principals, who are seeking guidance.

The administration’s decree Friday won’t change day-to-day bathroom use for North Carolina students, state schools Superintendent Dr. June Atkinson said late today in a phone interview with McClatchy. The HB2 law is currently subject to several lawsuits, she said, and the legislation details no sanctions or direction for enforcement.

That means, she said, that school districts in North Carolina are already following bathroom use practices as outlined in the new Department of Education guidance expected Friday.

HB2, Atkinson said, would be in direct conflict with the administration’s views and expressed standards. Atkinson mentioned another bill floated in North Carolina which would clamp down on school bullying and promote safety, including gender identity as a protected class.

“It’s a very frustrating time for us in the state especially those who are in education,” she said.

The Obama administration also will send a 25-page document describing policies in place in some schools around the country, such as installing privacy curtains or allowing students to change in bathroom stalls.

“These groundbreaking guidelines not only underscore the Obama administration’s position that discriminating against transgender students is flat-out against the law, but they provide public school districts with needed and specific guidance guaranteeing that transgender students should be using facilities consistent with their gender identity,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said late today.

“This is a truly significant moment not only for transgender young people but for all young people, sending a message that every student deserves to be treated fairly and supported by their teachers and schools.”

The move comes hours after the White House announced it wouldn’t withhold education funding over HB2 until the state and justice department’s dueling lawsuits work their way through courts.

That prompted North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory to post on Facebook tonight, “The White House just announced that it won’t pull federal funding to North Carolina while we take them to court. Sometimes the only way to stop a bully is to stand your ground and stare them down.”

North Carolina’s Republican members of the House of Representatives had asked the Department of Education to say by Friday whether officials would punish the state for its controversial HB2 law by withholding federal funds from public schools and universities

Earlier, Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to McCrory arguing that HB2 treats gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people as “second-class citizens” and warned that it is jeopardizing federal funding for the state’s education, transportation and health programs.

HB2 passed during a special legislative session in late March in order to bar Charlotte’s city council from letting transgender people use public bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity — not necessarily their birth sex. Republicans, and some Democrats, in the General Assembly voted in favor of addressing the bathroom issue and more in HB2.

Federal agencies launched a review of the law’s implications and whether the measure conflicts with federal standards and laws such as Title IX, which makes up part of North Carolina’s federal allocations for public education.

The U.S. Department of Education has never stripped funding from an entire state or even a specific school district over the issue of transgender students and restrooms — even when the agency has investigated and found alleged flaws in student equality.

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  • This is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. No medical documentation to support someone identifies as a different sex. Man when I was in HS with hormones raging, I would be forging my moms signature telling the school I need to use the girls bathroom and locker room.

    • Haaaaaaaa! Me too! This whole thing is stupid indeed! My question would be;what about our “Civil Rights”? So what’s the remedy,if one wants to be Politically Correct? ……… Build a Transgender or LGBT rest rooms. Problem solved

        • Moderation: What’s wrong with Separate Restrooms designating Transgender / LGBT?

        • According to the twisted thinking of Obama and those in the the Left, that would amount to discrimination if they had their own restrooms. They want to be inclusive even if it tramples upon the privacy rights of others.

    • Why is it that the perverted behaviour and moral failings of heterosexuals are consistently cited to justify discrimination against others?

      Back in the early 1990s, those who wanted to continue the complete prohibition of gays and lesbians from serving in the military argued that heterosexual service members, being weak and delicate flowers, would become so unhinged at the thought of being in close quarters with gay service members that they would be rendered unfit for duty.

      During the fight for Marriage Equality, it was argued that if gays were permitted to marry, heterosexuals would decide to stop marrying altogether and instead produce multitudes of children out of wedlock and fathers would abandon their children.

      Now we have the same people projecting their own perversions onto the transgender community and their fellow heterosexuals, saying that because they themselves would do anything to sneak a peek at a woman in a state of undress, or be tempted to do even more, that they’re sure other heterosexuals, i.e. “a man in a dress” would exploit laws designed to protect the safety and dignity of trans individuals to commit sexual assault.

      • I don’t know where you got those lame arguments from but it does not help your argument at all. You employ a logical fallacy when you cite obvious appeals from ignorance. Try again.

        • The arguments you cited are lame because they are obvious appeals to ignorance. Do you know what that means? It means that only ignorant people would argue that heterosexual military personnel are “weak and delicate flowers” who would become unhinged at the thought of serving alongside homosexuals. Equally if not more absurd is the argument you cite that heterosexuals would stop getting married, produce out of wedlock children and abandon them. Only an ignoramus could conceive of such a foolish notion. For you to cite the claims of a ignoramus constitutes an appeal to ignorance thus undermining the very foundation of your own argument. Comprende?

        • It’s obvious you didn’t understand my argument at all.

          I said it was the homophobes who argued that heterosexuals would not be able to handle serving with gays and thus gays should be banned from the service.

          And it was the homophobes again who argued that heterosexuals would abandon marriage if gays could also get married and therefore gays should be denied the right to marry.

          I’d glad you agree that these arguments that were used by anti-gay bigots are ignorant, absurd, and foolish. That’s a point in your favour at least.

          It’s tragic that for far too long, the vast majority of heterosexuals found such arguments convincing.

        • What can I say. You used foolish arguments by others to justify your argument. Where did you get those arguments – from your imagination? Even if someone else made those arguments they are clearly ridiculous and without merit. Therefore to use those arguments to justify your own position is equally ridiculous. It’s unwise to use a weak argument by others to attempt to bolster your own argument. When you use use the arguments of fools to justify your argument, you argue from a position of weakness rather than strength which inherently makes it easy for others to poke holes in your argument, as I have done.

        • It is hardly my fault that those who support anti-gay discrimination have nothing but foolish arguments.

          We saw this clearly over the last several years as court after court ruled that state marriage bans were unconstitutional.

          Perhaps you think you could have conjured up a more convincing legal argument to present to the U.S. Supreme Court than what the nation’s preeminent conservative legal thinkers produced, but I sincerely doubt it.

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