"The Departments treat a student's gender identity as the student's sex for purposes of Title IX and its implementing regulations," reads the administration's guidance letter to school districts. "This means that a school must not treat a transgender student differently from the way it treats other students of the same gender identity."
"There is no room in our schools for discrimination of any kind, including discrimination against transgender students on the basis of their sex," U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a statement. "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. I look forward to continuing our work with the Department of Education--and with schools across the country--to create classroom environments that are safe, nurturing, and inclusive for all of our young people."
The guidance comes after the federal government sued North Carolina Monday over its new law requiring individuals to use restrooms in public buildings according to the biological sex listed on their birth certificates, essentially regulating which facilities transgender people can access. The U.S. Justice Department maintains that North Carolina's policy violates the Civil Rights Act.
In Illinois, a group of parents filed a lawsuit this week against the Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 and U.S. Departments of Justice and Education over locker room access for a transgender student. The ACLU plans to intervene in the case, which stems from a December agreement reached between the school district and U.S. Education Department to let a transgender student at Fremd High School access a gender-appropriate locker room.
"No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus," U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. said in announcing the new guidelines. "This guidance further clarifies what we've said repeatedly -- that gender identity is protected under Title IX. Educators want to do the right thing for students, and many have reached out to us for guidance on how to follow the law. We must ensure that our young people know that whoever they are or wherever they come from, they have the opportunity to get a great education in an environment free from discrimination, harassment and violence."