Feds direct schools: Allow transgender students to pick restroom

The Obama administration has written the most sweeping school restroom pass in decades, telling public schools across the nation Friday to permit transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms that fit their chosen gender, according to reports that appeared first in The New York Times.

“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, which is being sent to school districts Friday.

Forcing students to use facilities based on the sex they were at birth as opposed to the gender they identify would be sex discrimination and a violation of Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, according to the joint guidance release by the U.S. Deparments of Education and Justice.

The directive comes amid a battle between the federal government and North Carolina.

It also comes a day after the American Civil Liberties Union filed a civil rights complaint against the Marion County school district in Ocala, Florida over a new transgender policy that dictates students use the restroom that matches their sex at birth.

pbc student handbookThe Palm Beach County School District has not waded in to any debate about who can use which school restrooms. In the student handbook, the district states that it “prohibits harassment or discrimination against students for any reason including gender expression and/or gender identity, race, color, religion, national origin, age, disability, marital status, ancestry, ethnicity, gender, linguistic preference, political beliefs, sexual orientation, or social/family background.”

According to a USDOE press release, the guidance issued Friday details schools’ obligations to:

·         Respond promptly and effectively to sex-based harassment of all students, including harassment based on a student’s actual or perceived gender identity, transgender status, or gender transition;

·         Treat students consistent with their gender identity even if their school records or identification documents indicate a different sex;

·         Allow students to participate in sex-segregated activities and access sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity; and

·         Protect students’ privacy related to their transgender status under Title IX and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act.

The schools can take offer “additional privacy options to any student for any reason. The guidance does not require any student to use shared bathrooms or changing spaces, when, fore example, there are other appropriate options available; and schools can also take steps to increase privacy within shared facilities.”

 

 

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