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White House issues order to schools on transgender bathroom access

WASHINGTON — The Obama administration has issued an order today (May 13) instructing all public schools to permit transgender students to use the restrooms and locker rooms of their chosen gender identity instead of their biological sex.

The letter to school districts is the latest step in the Obama administration’s promotion of transgender rights. It forced a suburban Chicago school district last year to allow a male transgender student to use the girls’ locker room.

Alliance Defending Freedom Senior Counsel Jeremy Tedesco said that the guidelines issued to public schools and universities nationwide reinforce the White House’s political goal of forcing women to share restrooms and locker rooms with men despite the lack of any support in federal law for that position.

“The administration’s new guidelines simply reinforce what has been abundantly clear already—that it has a political goal of forcing women to share restrooms and locker rooms with men across the nation and will spread falsehoods about federal law to achieve its aims,” said Tedesco.

The Obama administration sued North Carolina May 9 because of a new state law that requires individuals in government buildings to use the restrooms of the sex on their birth certificates rather than the gender with which they identify.

Tedesco said that solutions already exist to accommodate everyone without violating anyone’s privacy rights.

“The administration won’t entertain those solutions because of its preference to unlawfully impose its political will through threats and intimidation,” said Tedesco.

Russell Moore, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, described “the decree from the Obama Administration [as] a stunning misuse of power.”

“Children are not pawns of the state, to experiment with on behalf of the latest fashionable ‘right side of history’ cause,” Moore said in a written statement. “Christians must continue to insist that the worldview of the Sexual Revolution harms men and women, and advocate for the inherent dignity of all.”

Denny Burk called the federal guidance “jaw-dropping.”

“This radical directive is a heavy-handed, unconstitutional overreach in order to force Americans to pretend that some boys are girls and some girls are boys,” said Burk, professor of biblical studies at Boyce College, the undergraduate school of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. “It is absurd and wrong. And I wonder if this may not be a bridge too far even for people who are otherwise liberal.”

The Obama administration letter, signed by officials with the Departments of Education and Justice, does not have the authority of law but includes the implicit threat of a lawsuit or the loss of federal money if a school does not obey the guidance, The Times reported.

“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 says, according to The Times.

The letter says a school’s duty under federal law “to ensure non-discrimination on the basis of sex requires schools to provide transgender students equal access to educational programs and activities even in circumstances in which other students, parents, or community members raise objections or concerns. 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.”

When a parent or legal guardian declares a gender identity for a child that “differs from previous representations or records,” the student is to be treated correspondingly — with no requirement for a medical diagnosis or birth certificate in support of the assertion, according to the letter. It says schools may — but are not required to — offer other restroom and locker room options to students who seek “additional privacy,” The Times reported.

— by David Roach | BP

CNJ staff contributed to this report.

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