Obama Orders Schools to Open Up Trans Bathroom Access

There's no room in schools for discrimination, feds say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 13, 2016 3:36 AM CDT
Updated May 13, 2016 6:46 AM CDT
Obama Orders Schools to Open Up Trans Bathroom Access
A gender-neutral restroom at a restaurant in Sacramento, Calif.   (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

As far as the Obama administration is concerned, the fight over transgender bathroom access in public schools is over—and advocates for transgender rights won. The administration has issued a directive telling every public school in the country that transgender students must be allowed access to the restroom or locker room "consistent with their gender identity," the New York Times reports. "There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex," Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement accompanying the directive sent by the Education and Justice departments, per the AP. Schools can provide other options for students seeking "additional privacy," but they can't force transgender students to use "individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so."

The directive makes it clear that the administration considers this a civil rights issue and transgender students must have access to facilities even when students or parents object, the Guardian reports. "The desire to accommodate others' discomfort cannot justify a policy that singles out and disadvantages a particular class of students," the declaration states. The administration has also issued a 25-page document explaining how to protect LGBT students from bullying and how to protect the privacy rights of all students. None of this adds any new legal requirements, the Times notes, but schools that buck the directive are expected to face lawsuits and the loss of federal funds. (The Obama administration has also stepped up its fight against North Carolina's "bathroom law.")

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