Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Federal Transgender Bathroom Directive Faces Major Hurdle

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Federal Transgender Bathroom Directive Faces Major Hurdle

Article excerpt

An Obama administration directive requiring public schools to accommodate transgender students bathroom faces a major hurdle Friday, as 13 states urge a federal judge to strike down the order.

Leaders in the US Education and Justice Departments instructed in May that all transgender students in public schools be allowed to use the bathroom of their gender identity. Any ruling otherwise would violate Title IX, argued the Obama administration, a statute prohibiting discrimination based on sex at all institutions that receive federal funding.

But Texas and 12 other states plan to ask a US judge in Fort Worth, Texas, to deny this recommendation.

The 13 states - Texas, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Arizona, Maine, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah, Georgia, Mississippi, and Kentucky - say the US government's latest directives are unlawful "radical changes" that will turn "educational settings across the country into laboratories for a massive social experiment."

But the US Justice Department says the states' legal filing has no standing, considering that the latest directives are merely recommendations and not law. The 13 states say the recommendation has law-like implications. If they fail to comply, for example, they could lose billions of dollars in federal funding.

North Carolina became the first state to enforce a law barring transgender people from using the bathroom of their gender identity in March. Three months later, the Obama administration responded with the federal directive.

All public schools in the country must allow students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity, said the Obama administration in May in a declaration signed by both the Justice Department and the Education department.

"No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus," the secretary of the Department of Education said in a statement. "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. …

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