3 things to know about the Obama administration's letter on transgender students

Posted at 6:35 PM, May 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-22 19:49:38-04

While a federal judge in Texas blocked President Obama's directive on transgender bathrooms Monday, here is what the directive could still mean for K-12 students across the state and in the Valley:

1. What does the federal government's letter do?

The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice released a joint letter of guidance in May to public schools nationwide urging inclusion of transgender students, most notably transgender bathrooms. 

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas initially called the directive "federal overreach."

"My office would never dictate how locally elected school boards should manage their restroom facilities," Douglas said in a statement. 

The letter outlines the responsibility of public schools to include transgender students, which includes a "safe and non-discriminatory environment." Public schools receive millions of dollars from the federal government through Title IX funding.

2. What's required under Title IX funding? 

In order to receive federal funds, schools agree not to exclude or treat students differently regardless of their gender identity. That includes transgender bathrooms. "Transgender students must be allowed to participate in such activities and access such facilities consistent with their gender identity," the letter reads. 

3. Could a school lose funding if they don't comply with this new directive? 

Maybe. An Education Department spokesperson told ABC15 that this guidance letter is meant for schools to come into "voluntary compliance with federal law." If public schools and/or local school districts do not comply, there would be a review process before the federal government decided to withhold funds.