On May 13, the Department of Justice jointly with the Education Department issued a letter to all public school districts in the nation asking that boys who identify as girls and vice versa be allowed to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their choice.
"A school may not require transgender students to use facilities inconsistent with their gender identity," the letter stated, "or to use individual-user facilities when other students are not required to do so."
Earlier that same week, North Carolina had sued the Obama administration for threatening to pull federal funding over the state's bathroom law, which mandates that people use public bathrooms of their biological sex. The Obama administration promptly sued the state of North Carolina in turn, claiming the law discriminates against transgenders.
Since then, 11 states have sued the Obama administration over its transgender policy for public schools. In a lawsuit announced Tuesday, Texas, Arizona, Alabama, Wisconsin, West Virginia, Tennessee, Maine, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Utah and Georgia are charging Obama with "running roughshod over commonsense policies" that protect students, and are asking the court to rule the directive is illegal.
Although the directive was written in the form of a request, implicit in the request is the threat of losing federal money if public schools do not comply. A number of Republican congressmen are sufficiently alarmed that 73 of them issued Obama a letter May 18 demanding answers to questions, including the following:
1. Clarify specifically all actions that the ED and DOJ, jointly or separately, will take against or regarding a teacher, school administrator, educator, school contractor, or person volunteering at a school who does not comply with this guidance;
2. Detail whether the ED and DOJ will recognize or accommodate rights of conscience and privacy in an individual’s or institution’s non-compliance with this guidance ... .
Dan Patrick, lieutenant governor of Texas, which is among the states suing the administration, has called the public school directive "blackmail."