Obama Defends Transgender Student Bathroom Policy Despite Criticisms From Republicans: "It’s Our Obligation To Treat Everyone Fairly"
May 17, 2016 12:51 AM EDT
United States president Barack Obama on Monday defended his administration's efforts to mandate schools to allow transgender students' usage of bathroom that matches their gender identity. He argued that it is the country's obligation to protect the dignity and safety of the children, as well as treat everyone fairly.
Speaking to Buzzfeed, Obama expressed his belief that the directive for transgender bathrooms in school would help protect students who are "in the minority" or have different sexual orientation -situations that are commonly subject to bullying.
"I think that it is part of our obligation as a society to make sure that everybody is treated fairly, and our kids are all loved, and that they're protected and that their dignity is affirmed," Obama said.
The administration's guidance which was issued on Friday, dictates public schools to permit students to use their preferred bathroom. As noted by The Australian, school districts that do not comply could face lawsuits from the federal government or a loss of federal funding.
While the said guidance gained support from gay rights advocates, it has also prompted a fierce backlash most notably from Republicans, who called it an example of presidential overreach.
According to the New York Times, Texas governor Gregg Abott said the directive violated the principle of separation of powers. "The president is turning the Constitution on its head," Mr. Abbott claimed. "He's trying to cram down as many parts of his liberal agenda on the United States of America as he possibly can" before leaving office in January.
Texas Senator and former Republican presidential candidate Ted Cruz called the new directive "politically correct lunacy" as it demands public schools to permit grown men and boys into little girls' bathrooms.
The legal battle over transgender bathroom access has remained on the spotlight ever since North Carolina approved what others call a "discriminatory" bill that requires transgender people to use bathrooms according to their gender on the birth certificate.
The controversial legislation is now being challenged in court, including in a lawsuit from the Justice Department and a countersuit by the state of North Carolina.