In the midst of a controversial national dialogue regarding which bathrooms transgender Americans are permitted to use, the Obama administration will direct all public school districts in the country to let their students use the bathroom that matches their gender identity.
In a letter signed by officials in both the Justice Department and the Department of Education, the U.S. government will explain what schools should do to prevent the discrimination of its transgender students. It could also mean that schools who ignore the administration’s directive could face legal challenges.
“No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus,” John B. King Jr., the secretary of the Department of Education, said in a statement, according to The New York Times. “We must ensure that our young people know that whoever they are or wherever they come from, they have the opportunity to get a great education in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and violence.”
The news comes just days after the state of North Carolina was sued by the U.S. government over House Bill 2, which bars transgender individuals from going into a bathroom that doesn’t match their birth gender.
The Obama administration’s tough stance against North Carolina’s law, coupled with this latest effort to expand the rights of transgender students, is sure to renew the anger of conservatives who have fought tooth and nail to prevent progress on a host of social issues, from marriage equality to whether gays can serve openly in the military.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.