Obama praised and attacked for school transgender bathroom guidelines


Obama praised for school transgender bathroom guidelinesHuman rights activists have welcomed the Obama Administration’s new guidelines on the use of bathrooms by transgender students, but others are outraged.

In a letter on Friday, the Departments of Education and Justice, directed federally funded schools to allow transgender students to have equal access to facilities such as bathrooms and locker rooms that are consistent with their gender identity.

The department said this was “to help ensure that transgender students enjoy a supportive and nondiscriminatory school environment”.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), praised the move, calling it “goundbreaking”.

HRC President Chad Griffin said the guidelines “provide public school districts with needed and specific guidance guaranteeing that transgender students should be using facilities consistent with their gender identity.”

He added: “This is a truly significant moment not only for transgender young people but for all young people, sending a message that every student deserves to be treated fairly and supported by their teachers and schools.”

While the directives in the letter is not legally binding, the implied threat is that schools could lose their federal funding if they do not comply.

In the midst of a political storm in the US about the use of bathrooms by transgender people, the guidelines have not been welcomed by all.

“I got news for President Barack Obama,” Rodney Canvass, a  Texas school district superintendent, told 12News. “He ain’t my president and he can’t tell me what to do. The letter is going straight into the paper shredder.”

Texas Governor Greg Abbott dismissed the directive and tweeted: “I announced today that Texas is fighting this. Obama can’t rewrite the Civil Rights Act. He’s not a King.”

North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory also attacked the guidelines in a statement, calling them a “massive executive branch overreach, which clearly oversteps constitutional authority”.

North Carolina and the Federal Government are embroiled in a legal battle over that state’s new anti-LGBT law which prohibits transgender people from using the bathroom of their choice in public buildings.

Critics claim that pro-trans bathroom policies could lead to sexual predators  targeting women and children. Activists point out, however, that no such cases have been reported and argue that this “trans bathroom panic” is based on bigotry and ignorance.

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