Transgender activists are cheering after the Obama administration announced on Friday that students who attend public schools should be able to use the bathroom that corresponds with their gender identity rather than their sex at birth.
CNN reports that while the guidelines are not law, they do imply that schools not willing to comply are at risk of losing fundings.
“There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex,” Attorney General Loretta Lynch said. “This guidance gives administrators, teachers and parents the tools they need to protect transgender students from peer harassment and to identify and address unjust school policies.”
The announcement comes amid heated debates on which restroom trans individuals should use. North Carolina recently passed a law requiring people to use the facility that matches the sex they were born with.
“Having spent many years in law enforcement, I’ve handled far too many cases of child molesters, of pedophiles, of people who abused little kids,” former Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz said in a statement following the announcement. “The threats of predators are serious, and we should not facilitate allowing grown men or boys to be in bathrooms with little girls.”
However, transgender advocates believe that the Obama administration’s announcement was a smart move saying that “bathroom bills” which discriminate against individuals based on their gender identity is a basic civil rights violation.
“These groundbreaking guidelines not only underscore the Obama administration’s position that discriminating against transgender students is flat-out against the law, but the provide public school districts with needed and specific guidance guaranteeing that transgender students should be using facilities consistent with their gender identity,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “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.”