Government Tells Schools They Must Allow Transgender Students to Use the Bathroom of Their Choice to Continue Receiving Federal Funds

A new directive from the Departments of Justice and Education tells schools that they must allow transgender students to use sex-segregated facilities of their chosen gender identity.

In a new directive released today, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice are telling public schools around the country that they must allow transgender students to use the bathrooms and locker rooms of their chosen gender identity, regardless of what their birth certificates say, in order to continue receiving federal funds.

The memo makes this note about the conditions under which a school can receive federal funds:

As a condition of receiving Federal funds, a school agrees that it will not exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat differently on the basis of sex any person in its educational programs or activities unless expressly authorized to do so under Title IX or its implementing regulations. The Departments treat a student’s gender identity as the student’s sex for purposes of Title IX and its implementing regulations. This means that a school must not treat a transgender student differently from the way it treats other students of the same gender identity. The Departments’ interpretation is consistent with courts’ and other agencies’ interpretations of Federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination.

The memo goes on to say that there is no medical diagnosis or treatment requirement students must meet as a prerequisite to being treated consistent with their gender identity. Therefore, the memo says, “When a school provides sex-segregated activities and facilities, transgender students must be allowed to participate in such activities and access such facilities consistent with their gender identity.”

This applies to the following:

  • Restrooms and locker rooms
  • Athletics
  • Single-sex classes
  • Single-sex schools
  • Fraternities and sororities
  • Housing and overnight accommodations
  • Other sex-specific activities and rules

The directive tells schools that in each of the above situations, they must allow transgender students access to each activity or situation based on the student’s chosen gender identity, regardless of what is stated on their identification documents. The directive says this is important because, “Transgender students often are unable to obtain identification documents that reflect their gender identity (e.g., due to restrictions imposed by state or local law in their place of birth or residence).”

Is this a good idea for schools and for students? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

A copy of the full directive is included below.

Education Department Guidance on Transgender Students

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.