The Obama administration is defending its decision to open up school bathrooms to students of the opposite sex, arguing that it was an effort to provide more “security” and “dignity” to students across the country.
“Every student should have access to facilities that everybody else has access to,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest explained to reporters today. “No one should be discriminated against because of who they are.”
The new rules issued by the Department of Education, Earnest explained, should be considered as “guidance” for school administrators.
He suggested that administrators, students, or parents who were upset with the ruling should not feel forced to use shared bathrooms in public schools.
“No student is forced to use shared facilities, and if there are alternate facilities available, that are made available by administrators, then every student should have access to those facilities as well.”
Earnest scolded critics who opposed he guidance from the administration, particularly Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, who called the letter “blackmail.”
“I think this does underscore the risk of electing a right-wing radio host to a statewide elected office,” Earnest replied, when asked to respond to Patrick’s defiance.
He also accused critics of wanting police officers to check people’s birth certificates before letting them use the bathroom.
“That doesn’t sound like small government to me,” he said. “It certainly sounds like a government intrusion to me.”
Earnest tried to signal confidence that schools across the country would “welcome this guidance and will implement it.”
He refused to say schools faced the loss of federal funding if they did not implement the new bathroom guidance from the federal government, but repeatedly referred to “an established process” for litigating opposition.
“I think there obviously is a question of civil rights here,” he said.