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U.S. Issues Guidelines On Transgender Rights; McCrory Says It 'Changes Norms'

Federal officials issued a directive to school districts nationwide Friday saying they must treat transgender students according to the gender they identify with.  That brought another round of criticism from North Carolina officials, including Gov. Pat McCrory, who said federal agencies don't have the authority to decide school policies for bathrooms, locker rooms and other facilities.

The U.S. departments of Justice and Education delivered the guidelines in a "Dear Colleagues" letter. It says Title IX of the federal Civil Rights Act, which outlaws sex discrimination at schools that get federal funding, extends to transgender students.

McCrory said in a statement that the policy “changes generations of gender etiquette and privacy norms."

He says it's up to the federal courts and Congress to stop what he called "massive executive branch overreach."

McCrory and the Justice department are suing each other over North Carolina’s controversial House Bill 2.  That law, which McCrory signed March 23, limits discrimination protections for LGBT people and bars cities and towns from adopting their own ordinances.  

Friday's letter to school districts outlines a series of policies that the Obama administration says would be compliant with Title IX.  The Education department also issued a pamphlet with examples of policies that would support transgender students.

State Board of Education Chairman Bill Cobey and State Superintendent June Atkinson issued a statement saying they'll protect the rights and safety of all students:  

"The Department of Public Instruction is aware of the federal communication sent to public schools regarding transgender students’ use of bathrooms and locker rooms consistent with their chosen gender identity. We also fully acknowledge the courts are being asked to address this issue. Until then, as always, we support the legal protections afforded to all public school students and the safety of each child."

Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools said the system "will continue to support every student and family to provide a safe, welcoming and caring learning environment in each of our schools."

A spokeswoman said that means school administrators will "work with families to provide accommodations to meet an individual students' needs." 

Copyright 2016 WFAE

David Boraks is a WFAE weekend host and a producer for "Charlotte Talks." He's a veteran Charlotte-area journalist who has worked part-time at WFAE since 2007 and for other outlets including DavidsonNews.net and The Charlotte Observer.
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