States, parents, and communities — not the federal government — should be allowed to decide which bathrooms and locker rooms transgendered students should use, North Carolina U.S. Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis — along with 23 other Republican senators — stated on Thursday in a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch and U.S. Secretary of Education John King.
The letter was sent by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., the chairman of the Senate Education Committee and Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“Every transgender person is someone’s child and should be treated with respect,” the senators wrote. “But that does not justify a federal executive agency acting as a national school board telling 100,000 public schools how to resolve this issue.”
The letter follows a guidance issued Friday by the Obama administration dictating policies in bathrooms and changing facilities at public schools nationwide.
“It may be appropriate for the U.S. Department of Education to answer questions or issue guidance about its opinion of the existing law,” the letter continued. “But the federal law does not require states and school districts to follow that guidance. Until Congress or the courts settle the federal law, states and school districts are free to devise their own reasonable solutions.”
The senators’ letter joins the wave of backlash regarding North Carolina’s House Bill 2, the controversial “bathroom bill” that, among other things, overturned a Charlotte ordinance requiring all public and private restrooms, locker rooms, and changing rooms to be open for use by transgendered men and women. Under H.B. 2, individuals are required to use the public restroom that matches the gender listed on their birth certificate, rather than the gender with which they identify; private businesses are allowed to operate their restrooms as they see fit.
Following the Justice Department’s statement that H.B. 2 violates federal law, Gov. Pat McCrory on May 10 filed a lawsuit against Lynch, seeking an injunction and federal court ruling declaring that North Carolina is not discriminating against the transgender community.
Within hours, Lynch countersued McCrory — a move that placed North Carolina in national headlines and at the center of the Obama administration’s dispute over the definition of discrimination in federal law.
To read more about H.B.2, click here.