Atty. Gen. Loretta Lynch (Credit)

The Obama administration is directing public schools across the country to let transgender students use bathrooms that match their gender identity, a move that will expand nationally the argument over North Carolina’s controversial bathroom law.

The letter, first reported by the New York Times, carries no specific threat for schools that do not comply. But the threat is implicit because violations of federal civil rights law can lead to a loss of federal aid to a school district, or enforcement action by the Justice Department.

The letter amplifies a national debate over gender identity and privacy that was kicked off by North Carolina’s law declaring that transgender people must use public bathrooms, showers and changing rooms that match the gender on their birth certificates. The state’s Legislature adopted the law to block an effort by the city of Charlotte that would have allowed transgender individuals to use facilities for the sex with which they identify.

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