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Obama administration: Let transgender students use the bathroom they choose

Administration officials say forcing transgender students to use a bathroom they are uncomfortable in violates Title IX and could cost schools federal funding.

By
Stephen Feller
The Obama administration plans to issue a letter instructing public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom for the gender they identify with. Photo by igor.stevanovic/Shutterstock
The Obama administration plans to issue a letter instructing public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom for the gender they identify with. Photo by igor.stevanovic/Shutterstock

WASHINGTON, May 12 (UPI) -- The Obama administration plans on Friday to order public schools to allow transgender students to use the bathroom with which they are most comfortable.

The administration is instructing schools across the country to permit students to choose their bathroom without restriction in reaction to a law passed in North Carolina requiring all transgender people to use the bathroom of the gender they were born.

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"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," wrote Catherine Lhamon, the assistant secretary of education for civil rights, and Vanita Gupta, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, in a letter to be released on Friday, The Washington Post reported.

The letter threatens to withhold funding from schools that force transgender people to use a bathroom other than the gender they identify themselves as, citing Title IX regulations prohibiting sex discrimination in federally funded schools.

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Transgender issues, specifically choice of restroom, have become a hot topic for lawmakers and advocates in the past year as some have raised concern about allowing transgender girls who were born as boys, and boys born as girls, to use the bathroom with which they identify.

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Despite these concerns, school administrators and advocates have pointed out the lack of threatening or abusive incidents caused by transgender people in bathrooms.

"No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus," Secretary of Education John King Jr. told The New York Times. "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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