The White House is planning to issue a directive that will force all public schools to allow LGBT members to use the restroom that best suits their gender identity. The federal government will send a letter detailing the issue to all school districts May 13.
The letter which will be signed by the Justice and Education departments will instruct schools on how to accommodate transgender people in their restrooms and how to make sure that these students are not discriminated against.
Though Obama administration’s directive is not compulsory, schools that will decline to comply will suffer the consequences including lawsuits and federal aid cuts. The decision is expected to be harshly criticized by Republicans, who had already noted that the U.S. government sometimes interprets the law as it wishes and forces that interpretation onto communities across the country.
The administration however has so far been successful in imposing gay marriage across the country, in opening positions for transgender people in the military and, preventing federally-funded contractors from discriminating against them.
But now the nation’s public school restrooms seem to be next on the list. The Department of Education believes that no student should feel unwelcome in an environment that has not been cleansed on violence, harassment, and discrimination.
U.S. courts haven’t reached a consensus on whether gender identity issues are covered by the U.S. sex discrimination laws. But Obama administration thinks that a recent Virginia court ruling should settle the matter once and for all.
The Justice Department on the other hand currently battles North Carolina over a state’s law that bars transgender people from accessing, restrooms and locker rooms.
According to a draft of the said letter, public schools should not discriminate against LGBT students and force them to use bathrooms that are “inconsistent with their gender identity.”
The letter continues that such anti-discrimination measures should be enforced despite objections from other students, parents, and community members. The letter cites other civil rights cases as an argument against the majority’s discomfort to a minority’s right.
Additionally, the letter states that as soon as a parent decides that their child has a gender identity that doesn’t match other “representations or records,” i.e. birth certificates or medical records, the student must be treated accordingly. The Obama administration also wrote in the letter that public schools are free to build facilities for students who want “additional privacy” if they wish so.
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