- Thomson Reuters
The Obama administration is planning to issue a sweeping decree telling every public school district in the country to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity, the New York Times reported on Thursday.
The letter to school districts that will go out on Friday describing what they should do to ensure that none of their students are discriminated against is signed by officials of the Justice Department and Education Department, according to the Times.
It does not have the force of law but contains an implicit threat that schools which do not abide by the Obama administration’s interpretation of the law could face lawsuits or a loss of federal aid, the newspaper said.
“No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus,” John B. King Jr., the secretary of the Department of Education, said in a statement, according to 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.”
The decree comes in the wake of North Carolina’s House Bill 2, a law that prevents local governments from passing nondiscrimination ordinances and bans transgender people from using the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity.
The bill was passed through state legislature in a one-day special session in March and signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory hours later.
The US Department of Justice sued North Carolina on Monday, claiming the law violates the Civil Rights Act and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. McCrory filed a lawsuit earlier that day contesting the department’s mandate to repeal the law.
Experts say the law puts more than $5 billion of federal funding at risk for the state, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.