Obama weighs in on transgender bathroom battle

Published: May. 13, 2016 at 2:26 PM CDT
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The Obama administration tells public schools that they must allow transgender students to use bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their gender identity.

The directive is in formal guidance sent to school districts Friday by the departments of Education and Justice.

The directive has drawn stern responses, including from South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley.

“President Obama does not have the legal authority to mandate South Dakota schools and parents to require our children to share locker rooms and bathrooms with children of the opposite sex,” Jackley said in a release Friday.

The Texas lieutenant governor calls Obama's actions "blackmail." (see his comments in the video below)

The letter does not impose any new legal requirements, but federal officials say the guidance is meant to clarify school districts' obligations to provide students with nondiscriminatory environments.

It comes amid a legal fight between the Justice Department and North Carolina over that state's law on bathroom use by transgender people. The state and the federal government sued each other on Monday.

South Dakota’s Legislature this year passed a bill requiring public school students to use bathrooms based upon their sex at birth. That bill was vetoed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard.