Dept. of Ed. Issues Directive to Schools on Gender Identity Bathroom Policy

The department says not allowing transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identities violates Title IX.

The Department of Education directed all public school districts in the country to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity.

In a Dear Colleague letter released May 13, officials from the department explained their stance that a student’s gender identity is their sex, and thus is protected against discrimination under Title IX.

“A school must not treat a transgender student differently from the way it treats other students of the same gender identity,” the letter reads.

The directive relates to student bathrooms, locker rooms, single-sex classes and student single-sex housing.

RELATED: Dept. of Education Issues ‘Dear Colleague Letter’ About Student Privacy

The department explained that once students or their guardians inform school officials of the students’ gender identity, schools must begin treating the student consistently with that identity. Schools will not be allowed to require medical records or other gender-identifying documents to confirm the gender identities of students.

The letter is not the same as a law, but school districts that don’t follow it could lose the federal funding they rely on to operate. The letter characterizes the directive as “significant guidance” and warned that schools must follow Title IX and its implementing regulations “as a condition of receiving federal funds.”

The letter also forbid schools from requiring transgender students to use separate bathrooms, although they can make “individual-user options available to all students who voluntarily seek additional privacy.”

The letter comes as the federal government clashes with North Carolina over student bathroom policies. After the state passed a law requiring students to use the bathroom that corresponds to their biological sex, an appeals court sided with a transgender student who sued the school.

The federal government and the North Carolina government have also sued each other over the issue, and those cases are ongoing.

Read Next: U.S. Dept. of Ed Releases List of Religious Schools Exempt from Title IX

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