ERIE, Pa. - In a joint letter to all public schools Friday, the U.S. Departments of Justice and Education instructed schools to let transgender students choose the bathroom that aligns with their gender identity, or risk losing federal funds.
The letter does not establish new laws or regulations, but rather reinforces the Title 9 of the Education Amendments of 1972, "implementing regulations [that] prohibit sex discrimination in educational programs and activities operated by recipients of Federal financial assistance."
The letter does not sit well with everyone, though.
Todd Bernat has a 15-year-old daughter, and he describes the letter as "sheer intimidation," and a "disgusting abuse of presidential power."
"I don't have anything against what anybody wants to be but we have lost principle in America and we have just steered toward political correctness," said Bernat. "Keep the bathrooms the way they are, or or give people who feel they need a special bathroom, a special bathroom! I mean I am 45 years old, I wasn't brought up like that. It's just not natural."
One local transgender woman and activist said this federal guidance and reinforcement of protection is gravely needed.
"Learn about it and try to understand - people are just trying to live their lives," said Caitlyn Strohmeyer. "First of all, there has never been an incident of a transgender person attacking someone in the restroom or other facility like that - people just want to go in and do their business and get out just like everyone else. It's horrible you are treating a whole class of people based on an assumption that someone is going to do something. A child knowing that they can go to school and be themselves and be accepted and understood and be able to participate just like everyone else makes such a big difference. They need to be able to use the facilities to participate in activities that align with their gender identity; to not do that is really detrimental to the kids because they can't learn right in that kind of environment where they are being harassed or singled out."
To read the letter and federal guidance directive in its entirety, CLICK HERE.