Good news for the transgender community—and really, good news for all of us in the U.S.! Continuing the saga of controversy following the passage of North Carolina’s awful anti-LGBT law, HB2, the Obama administration has released a directive saying that every public school should allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity. Schools that do not follow these instructions “could face lawsuits or a loss of federal aid,” according to The New York Times.
The letter also comes with a 25-page document explaining different methods that already used in many schools, such as letting students change in bathroom stalls, so they don’t have to change in the locker room in front of everyone else.
John B. King Jr., the Secretary of Education, stated that, “No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus. 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.”
Advocacy groups were also happy with the announcement. “These groundbreaking guidelines not only underscore the Obama administration’s position that discriminating against transgender students is flat-out against the law, but they provide public school districts with needed and specific guidance guaranteeing that transgender students should be using facilities consistent with their gender identity,” said Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin, according to CNN.
As for President Obama, during a news conference in London back in April he said, “The laws that have been passed there are wrong and should be overturned […] When it comes to respecting the equal rights of all people, regardless of sexual orientation, whether they’re transgender or gay or lesbian. And although I respect their [politicians] different viewpoints, I think it’s very important for us not to send signals that anybody is treated differently.”
Hopefully this letter will bring the country a step forward toward long overdue equal rights.