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White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest responded to fierce criticism to a letter sent to public schools on Friday from the Obama administration informing them they “must allow transgender students access to such facilities consistent with their gender identity.”
Denying the directive is a threat, Earnest told reporters it is “guidance” that “does not add additional requirements to the applicable law.”
“The guidance does not require any student to use shared facilities when schools make alternate arrangements,” he said. “But what the framework does provide is advice for how school administrators can protect the dignity and safety of every student under their charge…This is not an enforcement action.”
Critics charge the letter contains an implicit threat that schools could face lawsuits or the loss of federal funds if they do not abide by the Obama administration’s “advice,”
The passage in question reads:
“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.”
While the letter does not appear to carry the force of law, the message was clear that the penalty for failing to comply would be the loss of federal funding.
When asked to respond to a comment from Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who made it clear his state would not be “blackmailed” by the president of the United States, Earnest took a cheap shot at the Republican.
“This does underscore the risk of electing a right-wing radio host to a statewide elected office,” the White House spokesman said in the personal attack.
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