The Departments of Education and Justice and the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division addressed the school’s environment for transgender students and released some directives that gained criticism from conservative sectors. To the government’s office, transgender’s rights issues are something not only about laws but also about values that define the country’s spirit.
Although the statements made about this issue were not made through a legal instrument, since it was a joint letter, to most authorities this must be taken very seriously because it has a severe influence and connection with federal funding decisions.
Transgender’s rights: Efforts against and efforts in favor
North Carolina recently released the Public Facilities Privacy & Security Act, known as the House Bill 2, a legislation that forces individuals to use public bathrooms that correspond to their biological sex, instead of their biological identity (transgender). This act raised debate all across the country about transgender’s rights in public life.
The federal administration in Washington responded to this tendency addressing to privacy rights and sex-segregation issues, establishing as a guidance the free access to public facilities, especially for transgender students at schools.
The “legitimacy” dispute
Reaction from most republican Senators had been clearly against this guidance. Some governors and senators have also stated that the federal administration can not “rewrite” Acts declared in the states, considering the joint letter a massive breach of constitutional authority.
To some, is not even legitimate for a federal executive department to release guidance on this matters. The administration argued that the guidance gives school authorities, administrators and parents the tools to defend transgender student’s rights in front of unjust school policies.
The aim of the administration is to reinforce Title IX of the United Stated Education Amendments that states, “No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving federal financial assistance.”
For the Federal office, the interpretation of this also involves the protection of transgender students in their school environment; considering that identity status can also be related to sex as a distinguishing feature of the subject.
Different LGBT groups applauded the initiative as a step forward for the protection of civil rights for transgender individuals. Some interpreted this action as a new politic tendency to send a message to young people about respect, fairness and support in the way we treat others.
On the other hands, some senators stated that communities of organized parents protested against this conduct since it can make worse the panorama considering children’s safety in public facilities. Also, religious groups manifested that the measure is absurd since it is trying to pretend that there is no difference between boys and girls, and it can protect perverts and pedophiles.
The debate is most likely to continue the rest of the year. So far, the Congress and the Supreme Court have not addressed this issue yet.