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Opponents and supporters of the Fort Worth Independent School District's guidelines for transgender children pack a school board meeting on May 10, 2016. | Photo by Laura Buckman

U.S. To Order Schools to Accommodate Transgender Student Bathroom Use

The Obama administration plans to issue a type of executive order on Friday directing every public school in the nation to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that align with their gender identity, according to a report in the New York Times.

The announcement comes amid a legal battle between the administration and North Carolina over the issue, the report noted, explaining that the declaration will outline what schools should do to ensure that none of their students are discriminated against.

It also comes days after Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick called for the resignation of the Fort Worth schools superintendent for implementing guidelines that allow transgender students to use the bathroom and locker room of their choice.

Patrick and other conservative leaders have pledged to pursue a law during next year’s legislative session that is similar to the one North Carolina passed, which prohibits people from using public restrooms that do not align with their biological sex.

The U.S. Justice Department and North Carolina sued each other this week over the legislation.

Embattled Attorney General Ken Paxton on Wednesday also announced he had filed an amicus brief with seven other states in a Virginia case where a school district restricted bathroom use for transgender students.

While several of Texas’ large, urban school districts have adopted nondiscrimination policies that cover transgender students, the Forth Worth district — the state’s sixth-largest — appears to be a pioneer in adopting guidelines that specifically address bathroom use by transgender students.

Superintendent Kent Scribner has said he will not resign and that he is proud of the guidelines, which he says provide teachers “with the ability to make all students more comfortable and confident in a learning environment.”

The debate heats up as Texas Republicans gather in Dallas for their state convention.

In a speech there Thursday, Gov. Greg Abbott said to big cheers that he was working with the governor of North Carolina to “fight back” against the federal government over the issue.

Asked earlier this week whether he thinks the issue should be added to the state party platform, Patrick demurred, saying he was “happy to look at that” but that it isn’t a partisan issue. As evidence, he cited Houston voters’ resounding rejection last year of an ordinance that would have established protections from discrimination for gay and transgender residents and several other classes.

Opponents successfully attacked the measure with arguments about the bathroom use, particularly that it would put women in danger.

“I don’t want to turn this into a political, partisan issue so that’s why I’m not going to make a comment on what the party platform should or shouldn’t have,” Patrick told the Tribune in an interview after a news conference at the Fort Worth administration building. “The reality is, in Houston we defeated the ordinance there to allow men in ladies’ rooms and women’s locker rooms 2-to-1 in a Democratic city so that’s why this isn’t a partisan issue.”

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The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues

About The Texas Tribune

The Texas Tribune is a nonpartisan, nonprofit media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them – about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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