Del. Reaction to Bathroom Directive from Obama Administration - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Del. Reaction to Bathroom Directive from Obama Administration

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A sign that leads to an "inclusive" bathroom, means to be used by all genders. (Photo: CBS News) A sign that leads to an "inclusive" bathroom, means to be used by all genders. (Photo: CBS News)

DOVER, Del.- People in Delaware felt strongly Friday about the Obama administration's directive to all public school districts in the country.

A joint letter from the Department of Justice and the Department of Education was sent to every school district in the United States. Some are calling it a directive, but the letter itself is identified as "significant guidance."

The bottom line is that it tells school districts they must allow transgender students to use the bathroom with which they personally identify.

"A school's Title IX obligation to ensure nondiscrimination on the basis of sex requires schools to provide transgender students equal access to educational programs and activities even in circumstances in which others....raise objections of concerns," it says.

According to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, "transgender" is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity and/or gender expression differs from what is typically associated with the sex they were assigned at birth. That includes people who have not had any type of sex change operation.

Gov. Jack Markell co-authored a piece on CNN.com Thursday about this very issue. He called it a civil rights issue. WBOC spoke with him Friday.

"This is a civil rights issue," he said. "We want to make sure we are welcoming to all people. And when we say all people we ought to mean all people. I think that's exactly what this is about."

Debbie O'Brien lives in Dover, and she sees this as coming on too fast.

"I think [President Obama] needs to stay out of the state government and let the states decide," she told WBOC. "I think this is a new issue, that it's something that shouldn't be thrust. It should be gradually introduced."

The letter from the government is not a law. It is guidance, as they have called it. Technically, school districts do not need to comply with it, but if they do not they risk losing much needed federal funding or even a lawsuit.

WBOC reached out to several school districts Friday. No district, except Lake Forest, returned phone calls. Lake Forest School District says they follow the rules and will be complying with the directive.

In Rehoboth, an LGBT advocacy group was speaking out. CAMP Rehoboth stands for Creating a More Positive Rehoboth. Steve Elkins, the executive director there, says this is already codified in the law.

"Under Title IX," he said, "It already says that gender identity is a protected class and that all accommodations have to be made to make the student feel comfortable. And even in Delaware we have gender identity laws which say the same thing."

The Delaware Department of Education told WBOC Friday it stands behind the governor.

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