Obama defends actions on transgender policies

President Obama on Monday defended his administration’s directive for transgender bathrooms in schools, which triggered fierce backlash from conservatives.  
 
“We’re talking about kids,” Obama said in an interview with BuzzFeed, adding that students who are "in the minority" or have a different sexual orientation “are subject to a lot of bullying. They are vulnerable.”
 
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Obama said schools around the country were asking the Department of Education for guidance on how to accommodate transgender students in bathrooms, locker rooms and other gender-specific facilities. 
 
“I think it is part of our obligation as a society to make sure everyone is treated fairly and our kids are all loved and that they’re protected and that their dignity is affirmed,” he said. 
 
The administration’s guidance, issued Friday, inserted Obama into a national debate over gay and transgender rights. It directed all public schools to allow transgender students to use bathrooms that match their gender identity, complying with federal civil rights laws. 
 
The Department of Justice filed a separate civil rights lawsuit against a North Carolina transgender law that requires people to use bathrooms corresponding to the gender on their birth certificate.
 
The actions prompted Republican officials to renew criticisms of Obama, saying he is prone to executive overreach and social engineering. 
 
Obama would not comment directly on the Justice Department lawsuit, only saying the “courts will affirm or reject how we see the issue.”
 
Regardless, he said it was “important” for the administration to give advice to schools.