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The U.S. Departments of Education and Justice released a joint letter of guidance May 13 to public schools nationwide urging inclusion of transgender students, most notably transgender bathrooms.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas already called the directive "federal overreach."
"My office would never dictate how locally elected school boards should manage their restroom facilities," Douglas said in a statement.
But what does this mean for K-12 students across the state and in the Valley? Here's what you need to know:
1. What does the federal government's letter do?
The letter outlines the responsibility of public schools to include transgender students, which includes a "safe and non-discriminatory environment." Public schools receive millions of dollars from the federal government through Title IX funding.
2. What's required under Title IX funding?
In order to receive federal funds, schools agree not to exclude or treat students differently regardless of their gender identity. That includes transgender bathrooms. "Transgender students must be allowed to participate in such activities and access such facilities consistent with their gender identity," the letter reads.
3. Could a school lose funding if it doesn't comply with this new directive?
Maybe. An Education Department spokesperson told ABC15 that this guidance letter is meant for schools to come into "voluntary compliance with federal law." If public schools and/or local school districts do not comply, there would be a review process before the federal government decided to withhold funds.
U.S. Department of Education, "Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students," accessed May 25, 2016
Interview with Arizona Department of Education spokesman Charles Tack, May 13, 2016