The Obama administration will issue guidance Friday to all public school districts in the U.S. telling them to allow transgender students to use the bathrooms that match their gender identity, according to The New York Times.
While the letter doesn't have the force of law, it does carry a threat: Schools that don’t comply could face lawsuits or a loss of federal aid.
It is signed by officials at the Justice Department and Department of Education.
“No student should ever have to go through the experience of feeling unwelcome at school or on a college campus,” John B. King Jr., the secretary of the Department of Education, said in a statement to the Times. “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.”
The move from the Obama administration comes as North Carolina faces a legal battle over a law that requires people to use public restrooms that correspond to their biological sex assigned at birth.
U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch on Monday announced legal action against North Carolina, casting the issue as the latest civil rights struggle of the era.
North Carolina officials also filed a lawsuit against the Justice Department, calling its position a “radical reinterpretation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.”
Gov. Pat McCrory (R) signed the law in March, sparking immediate controversy. City governments in other states have restricted travel to North Carolina for public business, and numerous entertainment acts have canceled appearances.
Opponents of the law call it discriminatory to the transgender community.