Obama administration tells schools they must allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice
Guidance tied to federal education funding in the name of creating a school environment free from discrimination based on sex
May 13, 2016
The U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice told schools on Friday the 13th of May that they must allow transgender students to use the bathroom and locker room of their choice, among other things. The federal government issued a "Dear Colleague Letter", called guidance, to ensure that all students can attend school "in an environment free from discrimination based on sex." The guidance is intended to ensure all students can enjoy "a safe and discrimination-free environment".
The guidance says, "Under Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, schools receiving federal money may not discriminate based on a student's sex, including a student's transgender status. The guidance makes clear that both federal agencies treat a student's gender identity as the studentˇ¦s sex for purposes of enforcing Title IX."
The guidance says that when students or their parents, as appropriate, notify a school that a student is transgender, the school must treat the student consistent with the studentˇ¦s gender identity.
Gender transition refers to the process in which transgender individuals begin asserting the sex that corresponds to their gender identity instead of the sex they were assigned at birth.
- a school must treat students consistent with their gender identity even if their education records or identification documents indicate a different sex.
- a school may not discipline students or exclude them from participating in activities for appearing or behaving in a manner that is consistent with their gender identity or that does not conform to stereotypical notions of masculinity or femininity (e.g., in yearbook photographs, at school dances, or at graduation ceremonies)
- 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 in circumstances in which other students, parents, or community members raise objections or concerns.
- A school's failure to treat students consistent with their gender identity may create or contribute to a hostile environment in violation of Title IX.
- When a school provides sex-segregated activities and facilities, transgender students must be allowed to participate in such activities and access such facilities consistent with their gender identity.
- 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.
- Housing and Overnight Accommodations. Title IX allows a school to provide separate housing on the basis of sex. A school must allow transgender students to access housing consistent with their gender identity.
Click on this link to read the Dear Colleague Letter: Obama administration issues school transgender student guidance