Leada Gore | email@example.com
Email the author | Follow on Twitter
on May 13, 2016 at 9:56 AM
Transgender students must be allowed to use the bathroom and locker room that aligns with their gender identity, according to the Obama administration.
Transgender students at public schools must have access to restrooms and locker rooms that match their gender identity, according to a directive from the Obama administration.
Public schools around the country havereceived a letter containing what the Justice and Education departments refer to as "significant guidance." Among the key provisions is one that includes allowing transgender students to use restrooms and locker rooms that align with the gender identity as opposed to their sex at birth.
"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," the guidance notes. "A school may, however, make individual-user options available to all students who voluntarily seek additional privacy."
The "discomfort" of others cannot be factored in accommodations, the DOJ said.
"As is consistently recognized in civil rights cases, the desire to accommodate others' discomfort cannot justify a policy that singles out and disadvantages a particular class of students," the guidance says.
Other guidance includes:
School staff and other personnel must use pronouns and names consistent with a transgender student's gender identity.
Transgender students must be allowed to participate in classes that match their gender identity in schools that provide instruction segregated by sex.
The directive does not cover admission policies for some schools and private colleges or fraternities and sororities at public institutions.
Schools are prohibited from disciplining or limiting participation in activities for transgender students based on their appearance or behavior that's in alignment with their gender identity or that "does not conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity." That will includes yearbook photos, school dances and graduation ceremonies.
Schools will be required to treat transgender students according to their gender identity as soon as a parent or guardian notifies educational officials that the identity "differs from previous representations or records."
Students are not required to present evidence of a specific medical diagnosis or identification related to their gender.
Schools that fail to abide by the guidance could face loss of federal funding or possible civil rights lawsuits.
The directive comes just as the Justice Department and North Carolina have filed suits over the state's law that requires people to use the bathroom that corresponds with their sex at birth.
Department of Education officials said the letter is designed to clarify federal policies related to transgender students.
"No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus," Education Secretary John B. King said. "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."