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Bathroom debate over transgender bathroom access.

Offices within the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education sent a letter on Thursday to all school districts nationwide, encouraging them to acknowledge transgender students.

The DOJ’s Civil Rights Division and the DOE’s Office for Civil Rights sent a letter described as “significant guidance” and referring to Title IX, which involves a condition of receiving federal funds.

Bathroom debate over transgender bathroom access.
Bathroom debate over transgender bathroom access.

READ THE FULL LETTER SENT TO SCHOOLS HERE – colleague-201605-title-ix-transgender

“As a condition of receiving federal funds, a school agrees that it will not exclude, separate, deny benefits to or otherwise treat differently on the basis of sex any person in its educational programs or activities unless expressly authorized to do so under Title IX or its implementing regulations,” the letter said.

Dr. Ron Johnson Executive Director of the Indiana Pastor’s Association released this statement:  “Today we raise our voices with millions of Americans who are both outraged and disgusted with our President in his latest attempt to by-pass both the Constitution and Congress by mandating that our public school locker rooms and bathrooms be used to forward his radical sexual agenda at the expense of the security and safety of our young girls and boys. We are calling on Congress to reel in our rogue President, reminding him that the states alone have the power to make educational policy. We are calling on Hoosiers to contact local school boards to encourage them to ignore this outrageous and perverse overreach by the federal government. Our tax dollars should not be used as a weapon to force local school districts into submission with a policy that is both dangerous and morally offensive.”

The federal goes on to note, ”

The departments treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of Title IX and its implementing regulations. This means that a school must not treat a transgender student differently from the way it treats other students of the same gender identity.”

The letter states that a school’s Title IX obligation to ensure nondiscrimination on the basis of sex requires schools to provide transgender students equal access to educational programs and activities, even if other students, parents or community members object or express concerns.

The letter highlights requirements, which include access to restrooms and locker rooms.

“A school may provide separate facilities on the basis of sex but must allow transgender students access to such facilities consistent with their gender identity,” the letter states. “A school may not require transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity or to use individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so.”

The letter highlights athletics, too, but acknowledges a school’s ability to operate or sponsor sex-segregated athletics teams. However, the section includes a vague reference to gender identity.

“A school may not, however, adopt or adhere to requirements that rely on overly broad generalizations or stereotypes about the differences between transgender students and other students of the same sex (i.e., the same gender identity) or others’ discomfort with transgender students.”

Title IX doesn’t include fraternities and sororities.

The letter is signed by Catherine E. Lhamon, the DOE’s assistant secretary for civil rights, and Vanita Gupta, the DOJ’s principal deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights.