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Oklahoma AG asks for clarification on school bathroom directive

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and his counterparts in two other states are asking for clarification on the Obama administration's new bathroom directive for public schools. (KTUL)

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt and his counterparts in two other states are asking for clarification on the Obama administration's new bathroom directive for public schools.

In a letter to the Education and Justice departments, Pruitt, along with Texas AG Ken Paxton and West Virginia AG Patrick Morrisey, says he needs clarification on their "significant guidance letter" regarding bathroom access for transgender students at public schools.

Specifically, the AGs want to know if schools that don't comply with the directive will lose federal funding.

The original directive was addressed to recipients of federal funding who are subject to Title IX requirements. It defines gender identity as an individual's internal sense of gender, which may differ from the sex assigned at birth.

According to the directive, schools in compliance with Title IX "will not exclude, separate, deny benefits to, or otherwise treat differently on the basis of sex any person in its educational programs or activities unless expressly authorized to do so under Title IX or its implementing regulations."

The directive says the departments treat a student's gender identity as the student's sex for the purposes of Title IX and its regulations.

Pruitt's initial response to the directive was in the form of a letter, saying Oklahoma "will vigorously defend our state's interests."

In the most recent letter, this time seeking clarification, Pruitt and the other AGs ask for answers to the following questions:

  1. Must an entity receiving federal funding follow this "significant guidance" in order to be in compliance with Title IX and/or entitled to continued receipt of federal funding?
  2. Must recipients of federal funding satisfy the requirements described in the letter, including the requirement that recipients of federal funding "treat a student's gender identity as the student's sex for purposes of Title IX and its implementing regulations?"
  3. What existing statute, regulation or binding court decision mandates that schools receiving federal funding must "treat a student's gender identity as the student's sex for purposes of Title IX and its implementing regulations?"
  4. Is it now a requirement of Title IX that schools administer their programs according to each student's subjective "internal sense of gender," and that Title IX bars schools from requiring any sort of objective verification of a student's sex?
  5. May a school require that a student use only the bathroom/locker room for the gender with which that student identifies?

The AGs have requested a response by May 24.

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