By the Staff at AFP —
The battle for the bathroom is heating up.
Today, the Obama administration sent a letter to every public school district in the United States, warning that if they do not allow transgender students to use the bathrooms of their choosing, they “could face lawsuits or a loss of federal aid,” reported Reuters.
The letter, which does not have the force of law, had been in the works for months, according to the Department of Justice (DoJ), and was signed by officials from the Departments of Education and Justice, and details “what schools should do to ensure that none of their students are discriminated against,” reported 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,” U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement.
“This guidance gives administrators, teachers, and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies,” she said.
The letter says “schools may not require transgender students to have a medical diagnosis, undergo any medical treatment, or produce a birth certificate or other document before treating them according to their gender identity.”
The letter comes as the Obama administration and North Carolina battle in federal court over a N.C. law passed in March that limits public bathroom access for transgender people, the first state in the country to ban people from using multiple occupancy restrooms or changing rooms in public buildings and schools that do not match the sex on their birth certificate.
“Courts have not settled the question of whether the nation’s sex discrimination laws apply in matters of gender identity,” reported the Times. Emboldened by a federal appeals court ruling in Virginia last month, the administration thinks they have the upper hand. Just this week, the DoJ and N.C. sued each other over the law.
According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, Americans are ostensibly divided over this issue, “with 44% saying people should use them according to their biological sex and 39% saying they should be used according to the gender with which they identify.”