Obama Administration Issues Transgender Bathroom Guidelines: Local Impact?
WASHINGTON - The Obama Administration is telling public schools they must allow transgender students to use bathrooms consistent with their gender identity.
The directive is a formal guidance in the form of a letter sent to school districts by the Departments of Education and Justice. (You can read the full letter by clicking here).
It doesn't set any legal requirements, but the guidance is meant to clarify school districts' obligations to provide students with nondiscriminatory environments.
"Schools have a responsibility to provide a safe and nondiscriminatory environment for all students, including transgender students," the letter says.
Sauk Rapids-Rice Superintendent Dan Bittman says they don't believe this will change anything in their school system.
"Anytime that we have situations where students may be uncomfortable for any reason: we work with them individually to make sure they have opportunities to feel comfortable as the rest of us do. So we handle those situations on a case-by-case basis."
Sartell-St. Stephen Superintendent Jeff Schwiebert agrees, saying their district has never had a situation arise. Any future concerns would be handled individually with a student.
In response to the federal guidance, Minnesota Department of Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius released a statement of support:
"I applaud the guidance from the U.S. Department of Education that clarifies what we've believed all along-that gender identity is protected under Title IX, and all students have a right to attend a school that's safe and discrimination free."
The letter comes amid a legal fight between the Justice Department and North Carolina over the state's law on transgender bathroom use. The state and federal government sued each other earlier this week.
-This story was written with information from the Associated Press-